Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cocoa Spice Encrusted Seared Wahoo

The very same wonderful neighbors who grow our lamb every year and often bring us fresh-caught crab are also known to go on a fishing trip or two after which they share the bounty of their catch with us. Yes I do know how lucky we are.
Last summer neighbor Chris went on such a trip to Baja and brought back a number of different kinds of tuna. In the bunch that he shared with us was this loin of Wahoo, a relative of the King Mackerel. While this fish is not in the tuna family, you could've fooled me: It looked like a tuna, seared like a tuna and tasted delicously like a tuna only really, really juicy. All the fish caught on Chris' trip were loined and flash-frozen on-site making this the freshest thawed fish I've ever tasted.
Michael Chiarello's NapaStyle Cocoa Spice Rub was the perfect base for the thick coating on the loin. The spice rub has cardamom in it so I embellished it with more cardamom and extra salt to bring out the flavors. You don't have to try to find a loin of Wahoo to make this dish; albacore or yellow-fin tuna would work just fine.
Seared Wahoo with Cocoa Spice Rub
Christine's original recipe
(print recipe)
3 tablespoons NapaStyle Cocoa Spice Rub
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon fine Kosher salt
1 loin of Wahoo or tuna
2 teaspoons olive oil for the pan
1 teaspoon butter for the pan
Grind the spice rub, cardamom and salt in a mortar and pestle until it becomes a very fine powder.
Pat the loin dry with paper towels and then roll in the spice mixture, coating the fish entirely. Use up all the spice powder by patting it on with your fingers to make a thick coating.
Place the oil and butter in a heavy skillet over high heat.
When the butter has melted, add the coated loin and sear quickly, turning the loin with tongs until all the loin is seared and browned.
You can serve the loin at this point if you like your fish very rare. Otherwise, place the pan in a hot (400 degree) oven for 2 more minutes to cook the fish a little longer. The center will still be rare.
Remove the loin to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 2-3 minutes then slice it into rounds with a very sharp knife.
Serve with steamed green beans tossed with a small amount of butter and a sprinkling of toasted chopped pecans.

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