Monday, July 18, 2011

Seared Tuna with Asian Slaw and Wonton Crisps

I love raw tuna. There, I said it. I especially love it when it’s served with something crunchy—the texture just plays off the tuna so well. Kona Grill (it’s a chain, I know, I’m sorry) serves my favorite raw tuna dish in Richmond: crispy wontons with sesame seared tuna and a wasabi aioli. I could literally eat it every single day. Pretty much the only things stopping me are the probability of mercury poisoning and my desire to avoid Short Pump traffic. So when I was home in Indiana last summer and my brother said he wanted to make a seared tuna dish with crispy wontons, I was fully on board. And he did not disappoint. In fact, I asked him to make it again the last time I visited and then I took the next logical step and asked for the recipe. Well, he and his wife Amber don’t really do recipes so much. I’m not sure how that works, but as long as they keep feeding me tasty meals they can do whatever they like. They told me the ingredients and I went from there. So what follows is my recipe for the delicious, fabulous, recipe-less tuna.

Sushi-grade Tuna (Ahi if you can get it)
Wonton wrappers
Garlic salt
Oil for frying

For the tuna marinade:
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. mirin
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. honey

For the Asian slaw:
3 cups shredded Napa cabbage
1 cup shredded red cabbage
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
½ cup thinly sliced carrot
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp chili oil

I like to make the Asian slaw first so that the flavors can develop a little more while you’re making everything else. You’ll want to slice everything as thinly as possible, especially the red onion. A really sharp knife will make this easier. And don’t make the mistake of buying baby carrots like I did; that made it more of a challenge to get the shredded texture I was looking for. Mix the mayo, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and chili oil in a separate dish, making sure that they are completely combined. Then pour it over the bowl with the veggies, stir it all up, and put it in the fridge while you start on the tuna.

Because you are serving the tuna basically rare, you need to get really high quality tuna. We got ours at Fresh Market. It’s expensive, but it’s worth it! We also got the wontons and Napa cabbage there since they can sometimes be hard to find at Kroger. My brother marinates the tuna in soy sauce and then covers it with black and white sesame seeds. It’s good that way, but we decided to try something new this time and really liked it as well. Plus it’s a lot less messy without the seeds. Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin (which is an Asian sweet cooking wine), rice wine vinegar and honey in a quart Ziploc bag, and then add the tuna. Marinate it for about 20 minutes. If you leave it too long, then the flavors will overpower the taste of the tuna. You also want to let it marinate at room temperature, otherwise when you sear the tuna it will be really cold in the middle.

I would do the wontons next. Cut them diagonally into triangles, and then set up a plate with a few paper towels on it for the finished wontons. Next fill a skillet with vegetable or peanut oil, about an inch deep and heat it up. Be careful to watch the heat on this, if it gets too hot it can burst into flames and that is a very, very bad thing. Once the oil is hot enough (test it by sprinkling a drop of water—if it sizzles, it’s ready), put one wonton triangle into the oil. I would just start with one because they go quick and you don’t want to throw a bunch in there and burn them up. Let it fry on one side for 20-30 seconds, then use your tongs to turn it to the other side. Once it’s turning a light brown, take it out because it will continue to cook. Basically, I would test it a few times and  you’ll get a feel for how long it takes. Once you have a few crisps done, sprinkle them with garlic salt. Don’t wait too long or the salt won’t stick. Make a lot of the crisps—even if you don’t use them all with the tuna, they are tasty on their own.

Alright, now time for the tuna. Put a little oil in a skillet and get it hot. We like our tuna mostly rare so the cooking is merely a formality, but if you like yours more done you can sear it a little longer. We basically seared the tuna for about 20 seconds on the top and bottom and that’s it. Then slice it thin and serve! The best way to eat this is to take a crispy wonton, put a little Asian slaw on it, and a slice of tuna, and pop the whole thing in your mouth! It gets messy, but that’s part of what makes it so good. Besides, what’s the point of making a restaurant quality meal at home if you can’t get a little on your chin?   

(Click here for printable recipe)

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