Tired of the same ol’ dish? Sometimes it seems we become so used to eating our favorite foods the way we’ve always had them, that we don’t think to mix it up. There’s also something soothing and satisfying from tasting the familiar. To know what we’re going to get. It’s comforting I guess. It also happens to be how fast food chains like McDonald’s have stayed in business all these years. People crave something they’ve had before and of course at McDonald’s, you know exactly what you’re going to get when you pull up to order your quarter pound burger with cheese. We crave things like a good standard bowl of chili with beef and beans. Or spaghetti and meatballs with the marinara sauce. You get the idea. I know, I know… we do like to try new things as well. The best chefs are always trying to present mind blowing new ideas and dare I say outdo each other with never before thought of flavorful taste combinations with food elements put together in an innovative way to wow us. We like that, too. Today I’m passing on a tuna dish to you that I happened upon at Epicurious and wanted to try it as it is a little out of the ordinary. Not the tuna steak norm necessarily and not the typical delicious “asian style” ahi tuna we all love and are most familiar with. It goes together quickly and has everything going for it. The heat from the spice rub on the outside of the perfectly rare buttery tuna, is tamed and brightened by the cool-and-delicious creamy avocado-citrus mixture in such a way that it certainly grabs your attention, making you very, very happy as you eat! As if that’s not enough…. it’s all laid out on top of a pretty bed of pickled cucumbers that add even more punch to the bunch. This is absolutely one for the keeper files at our house, as the whole dish is outstanding. All fresh, insanely delicious, healthful ingredients, easy, quick and fun. Oh… and anything but the usual!
African Adobo-Rubbed Tuna Steaks
Makes 4 servings
For the avocado salsa:
2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the bias
2 jarred piquillo peppers, diced (or substitute 2 jarred roasted red peppers)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the adobo:
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted and ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons dried orange peel
1 tablespoon sugar
Four 6-ounce tuna steaks
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
For the cucumbers:
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
1/2 cup Champagne vinegar
1 European cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and very thinly sliced
For the salsa:
In a medium bowl, combine the diced avocados, scallions, peppers, and garlic. In another bowl, whisk together the orange and lime juices, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Pour over the avocado mixture and gently toss. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the cucumbers: Mix the sugar and vinegar in a bowl, stirring well. Add the cucumbers and allow to marinate for about 15 minutes.
To serve, arrange the cucumber in neat slices across each plate. Slice the tuna and lay it over the cucumbers. Spoon the avocado salsa on top of or around the tuna. Spoon a little of the pickling juices around the cucumbers, and serve. (Sometimes I add a little grated orange zest for garnish as well.)
For the adobo:
Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl.
Rub each of the tuna steaks with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil and sprinkle generously with the adobo. (Reserve any extra adobo spice rub for another use.) In a nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until it begins to smoke. Sear the tuna on each side for only 1 minute — the tuna is served rare. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Chef Norman Van Aken shares his tips with Epicurious:
• The salsa includes Spanish piquillo peppers. To use them, drain the liquid from the jar, pat the peppers dry, then dice. In a pinch, jarred roasted red peppers can be substituted. • The tuna can also be grilled, as long as there is enough heat to quickly sear it. Pile a large amount of charcoal into a pyramid, let the coals burn until they are white and extremely hot, then spread them out into an even stack that reaches to within a few inches of the grate. The coals do not need to cover entire grill, since you will not need a large cooking surface. If using a gas grill, simply preheat on high. Coat the tuna with the oil and adobo as directed, and cook on an oiled grill rack for two to three minutes per side.
Norman Van Aken
New World Kitchen: Latin American and Caribbean Cuisine
Reprinted with permission from New World Kitchen: Latin American and Caribbean Cuisine by Norman Van Aken. ©2003 HarperCollins