Seafood Week: Ahi Tuna

Seafood is a busy cook's dream. It's healthy. It's delicious. It's widely available in a wide range of varieties. Oh, and did I mention that it's quick? In fact, when I don't have a lot of time to put together dinner, I often turn to seafood because it's actually faster than going out to dinner or ordering in. And when this is what you can have on your plate, what's the point in refusing:

Ahi tuna has an amazing texture that's best enjoyed raw or rare. In this recipe, it's just kissed a little by some heat. Most of that heat creates a crispy crust and just the smallest amount of meat is cooked beyond that. In the end, you're left with beautiful strips of pink tuna surrounded by a crunchy, almost nutty crust. I don't have a lot of seasoning stuff going on with the crust. Ahi tuna has a flavor and texture all its own and this crust is meant to highlight it, not stand in the way. If you'd like, you can always have soy sauce, tamari, or wasabi on the side. I tend to just enjoy it on its own and save those items for the sushi restaurant.

I like to serve this with a creamy rice dish (risotto or pilaf work nicely) and some fresh vegetables (I used sliced cherry tomatoes with ribbons of basil, but slightly crunchy steamed green beans or crisp-tender asparagus are also great accompaniments). And if I'm already treating myself to ahi tuna, I have been known to pour myself a glass of wine as well. After all, even though it literally took minutes to make, it's one of my very favorite treats … and part of the reason why is how little it took to get on my plate!

Crispy Crusted Ahi Tuna

  • 1 small portion ahi tuna
  • 2 T. panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp. black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • Cooking fat of your choice (I used bacon fat)

Choose the best quality tuna you can find for this dish, as it will be served rare and the quality of the meat makes or breaks the dish.

Combine the breadcrumbs, sesame seeds, granulated garlic, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Press the tuna into the dish, coating the two largest sides generously with the crumb mixture.

Heat the cooking fat of your choice in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the fat is hot, carefully place the tuna into the pan and cook without moving for 3 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully flip the fish and cook an additional 2-4 minutes (depending on your desired level of doneness) before removing to a cutting board. Cook any other tuna portions you wish (this recipe is easily multiplied).

Using a sharp knife, slice the tuna into thin strips and arrange on a serving plate. If desired, serve with soy sauce, tamari, and/or wasabi.

  • Yields: 1 serving, easily multiplied
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

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