Recipes for seared tuna are very plentiful online: page after page, but this recipe is unique! The black sesame seeds for the coating are toasted and lightly crushed to release maximum flavor. They are added to the marinade to absorb even more flavor. The fish is coated with both the sesame seeds and a little flour, then deep-fried—a technique that ensures maximum crispness on the outside, and tender nearly uncooked tuna inside. Very luscious. You’ll note that my pictures to illustrate the recipe did not turn out well at all, and the good news is that I’ll have to make this dish again to show off how amazingly wonderful it is.
Ms. Shimbo notes that though maguro, tuna, has been eaten in Japan since ancient times its popularity is relatively recent, toward the end of the Edo Era (1600 to 1868). In Japan, tuna is usually eaten as sashimi (uncooked) because thoroughly cooking tuna (my own personal agreement here, tuna and swordfish and even salmon become tough and dry when overcooked) firms and dries its flesh. Even more recently, seared tuna—a preparation like rare beef in that it’s neither completely raw nor thoroughly cooked—has become extremely popular around the world.
Sesame-Crusted Seared Tuna
Maguro no Goma-age
- 1 pound sashimi-quality tuna
- 2 Tablespoons black sesame seeds, toasted
- 1/2 cup shoyu (soy sauce)
- 1/2 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
- For the salad dressing:
- 1 teaspoon smooth French-style mustard
- 1 teaspoon shoyu
- 1 Tablespoon komezu (rice vinegar)
- 1/4 teaspoon peeled, grated ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 to 2 tablespoonsvirgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup alll-purpose flour
- vegetable oil, for frying
- a mixture of salad leaves and sliced cherry tomatoes
Cut away any deep red part of the tuna, and cut the rest of the fish into four 1-inch thick pieces. In a suribachi or other mortar, grind the sesame seeds until they are just broken.
In a pan large enough to hold the steaks in one layer, combine 1/2 cup shoyu, the mirin, and sesame seeds. Place the tuna in a pan, and marinate it for 15 minutes.
For the salad dressing: In a large bowl, combine the mustard, 1 teaspoon shoyu, the komezu, grated ginger, sugar, sesame oil, and olive oil, and whisk until smooth.
To cook the fish: In a large deep skillet, heat 1 inch vegetable oil over medium heat to 360°F.
While the oil heats, drain the tuna, discarding the marinade but reserving the sesame seeds. Coat the tuna with the sesame seeds, and then the flour.
Add the tuna to the skillet, and cook the tuna, turning it with tongs and a spatula, until both sides are golden. The center of the fish should be rare and pink, but cook it longer if you like.
Remove the fish from the oil, and drain it on a rack for 10 minutes. With a very sharp knife, cut the tuna diagonally to produce bread slices 14-inch thick.
Toss the salad greens with the dressing, and serve the tuna on a bed of greens, garnished with tomatoes.
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