Sesame Crusted Tuna & Orange, Cucumber & Avocado Salsa

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How gorgeous is a fresh piece of raw tuna? The deep red color of the flesh is even more enticing to me than salmon, unfortunately the price is rarely in my budget! Luckily I came across a great sale and scooped up a pound of fresh Yellowfin tuna chunks for $6, making this an affordable light dinner for me and my son. Keep an eye out for the occasional sale at your seafood counter or look for flash frozen tuna steaks that can be thawed at home. Tuna gets a bad rap these days and for good reason when it comes to sustainable fishing or mercury contamination. That said, tuna is an awesome source of Omega-3's and Vitamin B, so don't count it out as part of a healthy diet. This article from SmartyPants has some great tips on what to look for when buying tuna, what types to avoid and how to store it once you get home.

Way before I ever got on board with sushi, I remember the first time I had seared tuna at a restaurant. After the initial fear of dying from eating raw fish, I quickly realized how incredible rare tuna tastes. I also realized that the reason I'd never enjoyed tuna steaks before was because they had all been cooked beyond recognition, resembling a dry, tasteless gray hockey puck. Maybe that's why I used to be a little intimidated by cooking it at home, which is funny because it turned out to be one of the easiest kinds of fish I cook. The trick is just keeping an eye on the time (I find that counting the seconds myself is easier than working with a timer for something this fast.) High heat is essential to get a nice crust on all sides, and removing the tuna immediately from the pan prevents it from continuing to cook before you serve it.

I served my tuna chilled, topped with a fresh citrus summer salsa of oranges, cucumbers and avocados dressed in a simple splash of lime juice and seasoned rice vinegar. From start to finish, the entire dish takes less than 30 minutes to put together and requires virtually no measuring. Have fun with this and enjoy a refreshing summer treat!

Sesame Crusted Tuna & Orange, Cucumber & Avocado Salsa

1 lb fresh yellowfin tuna chunks (if buying steaks, you can cut into smaller pieces)
Black Sesame Seeds
White Sesame Seeds
Garlic Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
Soy Sauce
Sesame Oil
Fresh grated ginger
Minced garlic
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Coconut Oil or Grapeseed Oil for cooking
Orange-Cucumber-Avocado Salsa, recipe follows

Orange, Cucumber & Avocado Salsa:
1 large orange, peeled & chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled & seeds removed
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, core & seeds removed
Juice of 1/2 lime
Garlic Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
Fresh cilantro
Sea Salt
1 ripe but firm avocado

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Equipment Needed: Good quality non-stick skillet

Rinse off the fish and pat dry. Season with a splash of rice wine vinegar, splash of soy sauce, some grated ginger, a little garlic, the juice of one lime and a drizzle of sesame oil. Gently toss to coat fish and return to the fridge until needed.

In your pan, dry toast some sesame seeds for a couple minutes over medium heat. Enough seeds to cover the bottom of the pan is more than enough. As they toast, you'll see the white sesame seeds turn a light golden brown and start to smell the sesame fragrance. 

Remove from pan and transfer to a plate. Add a pinch of sea salt, some black pepper and a couple pinches of coriander to season the sesame seed mixture.

To prepare the salsa, you'll need to peel & chop up an orange. The best way to do this is using a knife to slice off the orange peel and trim off any remaining pith.

Combine the onion, cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro and oranges in a small bowl. Add the lime juice and a splash of rice wine vinegar. Cucumbers release quite a bit of moisture so 1/2 a lime should be enough.

My tip whenever making an avocado salsa ahead of time is to mix all of the ingredients first, return to the fridge and wait until just before serving to add the diced avocado. Stir gently, trying not to mash the avocado pieces.

Press each side of the tuna chunks into the seasoned sesame seeds to form a crust. Set aside while waiting for your skillet to get hot.

Over high heat, warm some coconut oil. When oil is hot & shimmers, add the tuna chunks to the skillet. Allow each side to sear before rotating to the next side - approximately 1 minute per side for rare tuna. I place tuna into the skillet one by one in a clock-wise circle, this makes it way to monitor cooking time as I rotate around the pan to flip them in the same order.

As soon as all sides have seared, immediately move the tuna from the skillet. The tuna does not need to rest before slicing and you can serve it hot. However, I prefer my tuna chilled so I put it in the freezer for a few minutes while getting my plates ready.

Sliced seared tuna topped with the orange, cucumber & avocado salsa, garnished with cilantro leaves...delicious!

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