Sunday, July 24, 2005

Seared Ahi With a Sauce to Die For

Yesterday I was shopping at Costco and came upon some beautiful, thick, fresh (yes, Costco!) ahi tuna steaks. Until last night I'd never seared, nor eaten ahi - at least not the way it should be eaten, which is seared on the outside and pretty much raw on the inside. Something about eating raw fish just doesn't appeal to me. Well, that's all changed. I brought my ahi home, went on-line to to find a recipe that sounded good and set myself to searing and saucing.

Reading the on-line reviews of this particular recipe took the better part of 1 hour, there were so many. Most of them had exclamations like "Oh My God...!", or "OMG...!". I take these seriously, as most of the people who review Epicurious' recipes are seriously good home cooks. After the first bite I had to add my own OMG! to the reviews. Make this recipe and you'll see why.

Pan-Seared Tuna with Ginger-Shitake Cream Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit's RSVP, February 1999
From Circa Restaurant, Philadelphia

2 8-ounce ahi tuna steaks, about 1 & 1/2 inches thick
Coarsely-ground Tellicherry pepper
2 tablespoons peanut oil

Sprinkle 1 side of tuna steaks with pepper and press in lightly so it adheres, set aside.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions (tops of scallions)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
4 tablespoons fresh, peeled ginger, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 pound fresh shitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (any other soy will be overpowering)
1 & 1/2 cups Land O' Lakes Fat Free 1/2 & 1/2 (or, as the original recipe calls for, 1 & 1/2 cups heavy cream, but they're your arteries!)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Melt butter in a large, heavy-bottom sauce pan. Add green onions, cilantro, ginger, and garlic and saute over medium-high heat until aromatic, about 30 - 45 seconds. Mix in mushrooms and soy sauce and simmer for about 30 seconds. Add 1/2 & 1/2 and simmer until sauce lightly coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Stir in lime juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, tasting as you go along. You may not need all of the juice. Remove sauce from heat and place pan at the back of the stove to keep warm.

In a large, heavy skillet (cast iron is perfect), heat the 2 tablespoons of peanut oil over high heat. Place tuna steaks, pepper side down, in hot oil and sear for 2-3 minutes. Turn the steaks over and continue searing until desired doneness is reached, about 2 minutes for very rare, 3 minutes for rare to medium-rare.

Immediately place warm sauce on plates and arrange tuna steaks on top (don't do what I did - see photo - and put the sauce on top. It ruins the presentation). Serve with wasabi mashed potatoes (recipe is on or jasmine rice with sugar snap peas or other fresh vegetable. One reviewer sauteed thinly sliced carrots and asparagus, which sounds good to me. I picked fresh zucchini out of the garden, grated it and sauteed it with a touch of chili-garlic-lime sauce that I had on hand.

Notes to my boys:
Use peanut oil for this, it has a high smoke point and is necessary for the high heat with which you have to sear the tuna.
When you turn the steaks over, take care not to get too badly spattered with the oil.
One steak was plenty for Clay and I to share. We've saved the other one for leftovers tonight.
The finished ahi is very, very rare on the inside. Even though I was squeemish about it at first, it was delicious and didn't have the raw, fishy taste I was fearing. See? Even your mom can learn a thing or two.


  1. Thanks for the recipe. Just made it tonight for dinner, with a green salad and olive bread.

    It was great!

  2. I'm always happy when someone makes one of my recipes and truly likes it. Thanks for leaving a comment, Rob.


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