Lightly seared tuna is a once in a while indulgence, and sesame is always a great partner.
My mother-in-law Pat was an accomplished chef and she taught me quite a few little tricks of the trade. One of her favorite ingredients to sneak into a high-end meal was potato flakes! This humble ingredient makes pretty terrible mashed potatoes, but is actually quite handy to thicken a soup, use in place of flour in potato latkes, or to crust a quick-cooking fish.
The model recipe
She had a sole recipe that used a light smear of mustard on the fish and a firm press in the potato flakes. A quick brown on each side in bubbly butter and the dish was pretty much finished except for a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of parsley. Since the flakes are already cooked, they brown quickly so you don’t overcook the fish, and there is an added bonus of a mild potato flavor, something I would never object to.
Wouldn’t this be great on fresh tuna as well, since we sear it quickly? It worked beautifully, and I thank Pat for yet another great idea.
Marine Stewardship Council
As delicious as it is, tuna is a fish we are careful about consuming, and not just for the expense and possible heavy metals. Tuna has been overfished around the globe with fully half of the world’s stock endangered. Always look for the Marine Stewardship Council blue label for certified sustainable seafood, whatever the fish you buy. These fish are monitored to prevent overfishing and also to protect other species of fish that would get caught in the harvesting process when large nets are used. For more information about this certification, visit https://www.msc.org/what-you-can-do/eat-sustainable-seafood/fish-to-eat/tuna
The humble potato flake
For potato flakes, I use Bob’s Red Mill I keep on the shelf in the pantry. This brand does not have palm oil and other chemicals, it’s just dried potatoes. I’d never use it to make a mash, but it is certainly handy to coat fish or other protein, even tofu, and to thicken some soups, so it earns its shelf space. I’ve used Pat’s trick to swap the flakes for the small amount of flour in potato latkes. It enhances the potato flavor, and the gluten-free people are grateful.
A chewy, textured rice
I served this with a delicious Forbidden Black Rice flavored with a star anise and a bay leaf while cooking. The chewy, nutty texture assures its place on the platter. The zucchini ribbons took about 20 seconds to steam, and I tossed a sliced lemon and a few shiitake mushroom on the hot grill pan to garnish it all. A delightful feast for four with less than a pound of tuna!
Potato Crusted Sesame Tuna with Spicy Lime Dressing
- 2 sushi-grade tuna filets
- 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- ¼ cup Bob’s Red Mill dehydrated potato flakes
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, sliced thinly
- 8 to 10 shiitake mushrooms
- Scallions, sliced thinly
- 1 tbsp. wasabi paste
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise, homemade, Hellman’s, or vegan
- Zest and juice of a juicy lime (or two stingy ones)
- 1 tbsp. capers, crushed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Thaw the tuna and pat dry. Place the potato flakes on a large plate or baking tray. Gently brush with the sesame oil, season on both sides with salt and pepper to taste, and press into the potato flakes, both sides.
Heat a cast-iron, grill pan, or other heavy skillet over high, and add the olive oil. Sear the tuna on both sides for about 90 seconds each. Remove to a plate and cover. Add the lemon and mushrooms to the pan and char.
To make the dressing, simply mix all ingredients together and thin with a little water or caper juice if too thick.
This is delicious served over vegetable ribbons or noodles, and some nutty Forbidden Black Rice. Garnish with the lemon and scallion slices.
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