Thursday, 5 November 2015

Seared Ahi Tuna with Avocado and Crunchy Vegetable Salad

I had a half pound Ahi tuna steak to feed two people...and lots of fresh, crispy vegetables to use. There was some Asian vinaigrette (see the post Mango and Tamarind Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Asian Slaw for the recipe) in the fridge that needed to be used up.

The vinaigrette became the base of the meal...I used it to marinade the tuna, to dress the vegetables for the salad, and to coat the diced cooked tuna and avocado. The richness of the tuna and avocado were offset by the fresh, crisp vegetables and baby spinach leaves. The smooth, silky texture was contrasted nicely by the crunch of the vegetables. The dressing tied it all together.

First, make the dressing if you need to. Wash some baby spinach leaves, and set aside.

Pour some of the vinaigrette over the tuna steak, and leave it to marinate while you prepare the rest of the salad ingredients.

In a bowl, combine the vegetables with enough of the Asian vinaigrette to coat them:

3/4 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 green onions, sliced
3/4 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1/2" pieces

On each plate, place:

A large handful of baby spinach leaves
4 grape tomatoes, halved

In a smoking hot pan, sear the tuna, turning once. No oil is needed; there is sufficient oil in the vinaigrette.

This does not take long, about  45 - 60 seconds per side. My steak was just over 1/2" thick.

Remove the tuna from the pan and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.

Thinly slice the tuna, and then cut the strips again to end up with diced tuna.

Combine the diced tuna with:

1/2 avocado, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons lightly toasted sesame seeds
1 - 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette

Divide the chopped vegetables between the 2 plates, placing them on top of the spinach.

Divide the tuna and avocado between the two plates. I placed 3 small mounds around the edge oif the plate. You can sprinkle extra sesame seeds over the top before serving if you like.

  • Any Asian style dressing can be used; the combination of garlic, ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce work extremely well with Ahi tuna. Use your favourite recipe, or a store bought dressing if you like. My dressing has a small amount of peanut butter in it, which adds a bit of creaminess.
  • I chose not to dress the spinach leaves as I felt there was more than enough dressing on everything else.
  • The tuna can be left sliced and placed on top of the salad. You can also cook individual steaks and place a whole steak on each plate.
  • Fresh tuna should be cooked rare; if cooked longer it becomes dry, tough and unpalatable. When you are cooking it, watch the sides of the steak and you will see the colour change as the fish cooks. As soon as a thin line appears on the bottom, turn the fish over and cook it until the other side is the same. There will be a definite line of unchanged colour in the middle. The trick is to cook the fish at a high temperature for a short time.
  • When slicing the cooked fish, cut against the grain of the flesh, as you would with any meat. 
  • Other fish can be used for this salad...salmon, marlin, swordfish, scallops or prawns. The fish can be pan seared or grilled.
  • Don't limit yourself to fish. Chicken, pork or beef will work too.
  • The vegetables you use in the salad are completely up to you. I used crunchy vegetables. The important thing to remember is that they should be cut small, as this makes the salad easier to eat. Some suggestions are shredded carrots, bean sprouts, corn, snap peas or snow peas.
  • Greens on the bottom are optional. This could be turned into a rice or noodle bowl. Simply cook (or heat leftover) rice or noodles,  add some vinaigrette while still warm and then proceed with the recipe.
  • Make the tuna and avocado, add finely chopped green onions or fresh chives and serve as an appetizer, passing rice crackers or crispy wonton wrappers to top with the salad.
  • The tuna and avocado can also be turned into a passed canape by serving a small amount on porcelain Chinese soup spoons (the ones that have a flat bottom), or on thinly sliced pieces of cucumber.

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