Monday, July 27, 2009

Fresh tuna two ways - Seared Tuna Steaks with Asian Coleslaw and Wasabi Aioli Dipping Sauce and a Tuna Tartare appetizer

Fresh tuna is meaty and lean and one of our favorites. However, like any fish, it’s important that you have the freshest available. For tuna steaks, if you like yours rare, or even medium rare, be sure to choose steaks that are about an inch thick. A thin steak will overcook quickly and for us it’s a sin to overcook tuna. If you’re making tartare you can use a thinner piece because it’s going to be chopped. We like to serve our tuna steaks with a wasabi aioli dipping sauce.

I’ve prepared Asian Coleslaw as a side dish for the tuna steaks. This is a very versatile slaw and one of our favorites because it’s not sweet or dressed with mayonnaise. It could be called skinny slaw because it’s not full of the calories associated with mayonnaise. Sometimes I use an ordinary head of green cabbage and dress it simply with the vinegar, soy sauce and dark sesame oil and throw in some sliced scallions for color. Other times I’ll dress it up with the red peppers and snow peas as I have here. I also like to toast black sesame seeds in a hot skillet for a few minutes and add them to the slaw. It’s also good with finely minced fresh ginger and chopped fresh cilantro or a finely chopped jalapeno pepper for zing. I’ve even chopped peanuts and used them as a garnish. Let you imagination run wild here – almost anything goes.

Seared Tuna steaks with black and white sesame seed crust

2 (6 ounce) fresh tuna steaks, about one inch thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
One tablespoon each black and white sesame seeds

Salt and pepper tuna steaks. Dredge tuna on both sides with the black and white sesame seeds and briefly set aside. Heat a black, cast-iron skillet over high heat until skillet is almost smoking. Add tuna and cook one minute or so on each side for rare, 2 – 3 minutes for medium rare. Remove tuna from the skillet, let rest for a few minutes before serving. Serves 2. Serve with wasabi aioli dipping sauce if desired.

Wasabi aioli dipping sauce

We like our wasabi sauce with a kick to it so we use 1 ½ tablespoons of powder to 1 tablespoon of water. Most recipes call for equal parts wasabi powder to cold water.

1 ½ tablespoons wasabi powder
1 tablespoon cold water
1 teaspoon or more finely chopped garlic
½ cup best quality mayonnaise, such as Hellmann’s
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Dash of fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix the wasabi powder with cold water in a small bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes. Add wasabi powder to mayonnaise, then mix in remaining ingredients and blend well. Refrigerate sauce for thirty minutes for flavors to marry. Serve cold.

Asian flavored coleslaw

½ of a sweet, red bell pepper, thinly sliced
12 – 15 snow peas, cut in half lengthwise
Peanut or canola oil
½ head of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 large scallion, white and green parts, sliced on the diagonal
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably low sodium
1 tablespoon (or more to taste) Asian dark sesame oil

Heat about a tablespoon of peanut or canola oil in a 10” non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and sauté red bell pepper strips and snow peas two to three minutes until beginning to brown but still crisp tender. Season with salt and pepper, remove from skillet and set aside.

Place thinly sliced cabbage in a large bowl, add scallion, vinegar, soy sauce and dark sesame oil and toss to blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add reserved pepper and snow peas and check for seasonings. Serves 2

When we lived in the Bahamas, tuna was on the menu frequently. This is a picture of my husband and his friends with their catch, still dripping with salt water. Tuna tartare is my husband’s specialty and he tastes and blends as he goes. If you haven’t caught the tuna yourself and know the freshness, tell your fish monger that you plan to eat it raw when you purchase it. He’ll either give you an extremely fresh piece or tell you he would advise against buying what he has. In that case, leave it at the store.

My husband has been making this tartare for years and it turns out that it’s very similar to the tuna tartare recipe in Simple to Spectacular by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman. After reading their recipe, we’ve started to give it a few extra shakes of hot sauce and have included chopped chives, as they suggested. Be sure to make this at the very last minute or the lime will cook the tuna and make it mushy.

Tuna Tartare Appetizer

Cut 1 lb of best quality tuna into small cubes. Combine the tuna with 1/2 teaspoon or more (if you like it spicy) of hot sauce, such as Tabasco, a squeeze or two of fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil, Kosher salt to taste, and a tablespoon of minced fresh chives. Garnish with a chive blossom. Serve at once on neutral tasting cracker such as Carr’s or Stoned Wheat Thins or on thin slices of a toasted French baguette. Serves 4 as an appetizer.


  1. Well, first of all the recipes are all ones that I want to make IMMEDIATELY. (Made your corn cakes last night for the third or fourth time. What a treat! Had leftovers for breakfast and put red pepper relish on mine.)

    And thank you so much for the award! I'll pass it on eventually!

    And many, many thanks for the nice things you say about my blog!

    Now to find some very fresh tuna.

  2. this looks fab what a great catch and congrats on your award Rebecca

  3. oh my - thank you, Sam! I love these awards. It's always nice to be recognized, but it's also a terrific way to lead people to new blogs. (and what an added bonus to be paired with Vickie!).

    This tuna tartare sounds absolutely scrumptious!!!

  4. Tuna with wasabi is one of my favorite tastes in all the world! (my husband's also) Both of your recipes looks amazing!

    Boy, that's one big fish!

  5. I don't know where to start today, Sam. All of the recipes look and sound delicious. The tips on thickness of steaks are most appreciated as is the recipe for your husband's specialty tartar. Congratulations on receiving another well-deserved award. Have a marvelous day.

  6. I was fortunate enough to also receive a "gift" from the sea like that caught by my own hubs!!! It is so amazing.....I like the tartare and your are right...freshness is key!!!

  7. Oh I am back from my long weekend with hubby's family and now this wonderful post makes me regret not ordering it for my dinner Saturday night! We love fresh tuna, and wish it was a 'flying' tuna...right off the page and on my plate over here :)

  8. both tuna dishes look excellent - I dont care what anybody says tuna tartare will never go out of style for me - and the sear on the steak - perfection!

  9. Sam,
    All these recipes look so good. The tuna dishes look excellent. I always enjoy your postings very much, but go away from the computer hungry. Great blog!

  10. I have always wanted to try making tuna steaks but for some reason I always thought they would be hard. And I wasn't exactly sure what to make with them, either. Your recipes have inspired me to give it a try. Thanks so much!

  11. We love tuna and wasabi. What a treat to have these recipes for you. Love the cole slaw dressing also. And, congratulations on a well deserving blog award. I so enjoy you.

  12. Perfectly cooked tuna - I love the idea of black and white sesame crust and the wasabi aioli should compliment it perfectly! The appetizer looks awesome too!

  13. You make me HUNGRY!! The two recipes look absolutely delicious, and I hope to soon prove you right!

    We move to Hope Town in 98 days, so will look forward to lots of good fish and often. Crawfish season opens August 1st, too...

  14. Either way with freshly caught fish would be phenominal Caroline.

  15. I love tuna when it's well prepared. What a great idea to serve with slaw.

    I have an award for you on my blog.

  16. Sam-I've never had Tuna like this-but would like to try it. Love the picture of the fish and your husband.

  17. Congratulations on the award, Sam!

    Beside salmon, tuna is also my favorite fish :)

  18. Great post! We love tuna too. Nice catch by your husband!

  19. Again congrats on your well deserved award!! You truly deserve it!
    Congrats on the others too!

    Your tuna is well presented. I don't like tuna but my husband adores it! So, I will have to make this georgous recipe of yours!! The tuna appetizer sounds great too!

    Thanks !!

  20. Although I live on Long Island where there is an abundance of tuna fishing, I have never ventured out into the ocean for my own catch. I adore patiently waiting at the dock for the tuna boats to arrive. Tuna is surprisingly easy to "fish monger" on your own.

    I sure do appreciate these recipes. I'm always looking for inspiration for fresh tuna. Thanks for sharing...

  21. That looks so good! Unfortunately I can only afford tuna every so often. But I have plans for that Asian coleslaw!

  22. Delish...tuna is now on Wednesday's menu (my fresh market day). xv

  23. Your tuna dishes sound incredible. The asian slaw sounds like the perfect pair. Lived in the Bahamas?? Be still my heart. Ive been there only 2 times and long to go back.
    Congrats on your award!

  24. Both look fantastic and I love the sear on the favorite. I'm going to have to put that tartar sauce up against my no fail tartar sauce, it sounds yummy!

  25. Oh! All the recipes that you feature are so yummie...they all sound and look great. Wow, such a big fish!

  26. It is me again...forgot to congratulate you for the award...CONGRATULATIONS!

  27. Both tuna dishes are incredible! I've never been comfortable enough with the freshness of the tuna available here for any raw preparation but I do love it in this manner. At least the wasabi aioli is do-able immediately! 8-)

    It's been a while since I've been by so I've got some catching up to do on reading your posts. Just as you've acknowledged your most recent award, I also wrote a small paragraph about you on my newest post, to thank you for the funny "Bra Award" that you shared with me in May. I'm late but quite sincere in my gratitude!

  28. What a delightful picture (top one) I see two hearts, what do you see? Thank you for the recipes, sound (and reads) delicious. And congratulations for the Splash award!

  29. These look so good! I haven't made tuna in so long. You've given me some inspiration - maybe this weekend!

  30. Wow, these both sound amazing! That is one heckuva tuna!! Congrats on your award :D

  31. I've never tried raw fish but maybe I will after reading your post...

  32. I just had lots of sushi tonight for dinner, but I could reallllyy go for some tuna appetizer even still!

  33. Sam,
    I just wanted to visit your blog again and enjoy the postings on tuna. Sounds and looks so delicious. I always love your postings.

  34. First of all, congrats on this award and you DO make a splash!

    Second, the first tuna recipe is similar to one my sister-in-law made me a few years ago and the spicy hot wasabi with the beautiful tuna is a pair made in heaven. This is a recipe I will definitely try.

    And tuna tartare? One of my favorite things on earth. Great post, grat recipes.

  35. Truthfully, I'm not a fan of tuna but this almost has me tempted to change my mind!

  36. With all these wonderful recipes, my eyes lit up when I saw the Asian cole slaw. I have to try this.


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