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Half Shell Oyster House offers tuna a number of ways including on a salad and stacked with crabmeat.
All of my Thanksgiving leftovers are gone. All of them as of yesterday. I am still a little sore the giblet gravy was tossed prematurely, but thankful the turkey and green onion sausage gumbo was a great substitute for the dressing. Some say it’s better than the original gravy, but they don’t appreciate organ meat as much as I.
There isn’t a morsel of meat left in the fridge despite cooking over 72 pounds of big bird. I missed out on bringing home my share of the 20 pounder I oven-roasted, leaving it for the ravenous Mississippi crowd. But don’t feel sorry for me. I ate way more than I should.
So here we are, weeks after the holiday and I am looking to get away from the richness of last week to sort of cleanse before the Christmas cookies, divinity and pralines scratch my itching sweet tooth in tandem with the immoderate supply of Texas trash that will satisfy my salt fix. I am in luck. My friend and guitar student David Adams came through with a slab of tuna for me.
The past 10 months or so we at the MacDonald manor have for the most part turned our backs on tuna due to the anticipation of baby Henry’s arrival followed by the beginning of the silly season, so when Dave appeared with this healthy chunk I was reminded of what I had been missing in my diet. I was told this piece, skin on and covered in ice, was plucked from the Gulf during a highfalutin fishing charter three days before. My gratitude cannot be expressed enough for the excess flesh sent my way.
I am having it three days in a row and I will not tire of it. So how do I prepare it? Let’s first take a look at the tuna dishes around town that are excellent examples of what to do with such a fantastic piece of meat.
The Royal Scam consistently tops the list with their tuna martini. Straight chunks of tuna served over microgreens in a martini glass have not so much as touched the flame of a zippo. A little bit of wasabi crème fraiche compliments the sesame soy Sriracha dressing. For this dish or any other tartare you have to be really particular about the tuna you serve. Only the freshest will do.
The Loop has a favorite tuna dish at Fuji San. Actually they have a couple. The Spicy tuna ball has crabstick and crunchies, a delicious dish, but you must enjoy mayonnaise (I do). My favorite is the less spicy Tuna Tower. A layer of sushi rice, crabmeat, avocado, tuna, seaweed salad and roe steal my heart. I don’t share this with the table. It’s also an example of why chopsticks still exist. I wouldn’t eat this with a fork as you would compromise the integrity of the tower.
You’ll find a variation on this at Half Shell Oyster House. Their Tuna and Crab Stack is close to the same ingredients garnished with soy glaze, Sriracha lime mayonnaise and sesame seeds. Feel free to destroy this one with a fork. They give you wonton chips for scooping.
Tuna Tataki is a go-to when trying any sushi restaurant. I find it a good measuring stick for what’s to come. I rarely visit Liquid though I eat their food regularly in the courtyard of the OK Bicycle Shop. They may have my favorite tataki. The wok-seared tuna gets a little treatment from chili oil and sesame seeds. The honey wasabi mayonnaise is the icing on the cake. It’s simple, pure and elegant the way tuna should be.
I should also mention Chuck’s Fish. If Raiza is working just order the Raiza special. If you see him ask about the tuna. Sometimes he gets something a little better than the already spectacular normal. Whatever he puts together will not disappoint.
Here at the Lagniappe test kitchen otherwise known as my home, I usually prepare tuna the same way. I vary from time to time, but I do sear it. It has to be rare. Mooing. If you want your tuna cooked medium then just eat something else.
I know people argue, “Well if you aren’t the one eating it then why do you care?” I care because I don’t want to see it wasted. It’s as offensive as a filet cooked well-done and bathed in ketchup. It’s like painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa. Mud tires on a sports coupe. This fish is designed to be either raw or barely cooked so learn to love it or fry up some catfish.
A wok will work fine but I usually fire up a flat griddle. Blazing hot with some quality sesame oil or really good olive oil, I season both sides of the tuna steak with whatever flavor of the day suits me. Asian spices, lemon pepper or even some kind of Creole seasoning will do. Let your mood direct your shaker. Grill each side for less than a minute, maybe less than thirty seconds depending on temp.
Pay attention to the edges. You will see the pink interior shrink as the meat cooks. Keep in mind that it may cook a touch further while resting so pull it before it reaches desired doneness. I want that outside crust with a cold center so I prefer a thicker cut, 1 ¾ inch to 2 inches. An inch thick tuna steak is too thin to cook.
After searing you can really see the grain. Slice cross-grained into thin slices. Serve over cubed avocados, and red onions that are sautéed just enough to sweeten. Top that with fresh cilantro, lime juice, good soy sauce and dots of Sriracha.
This is one of those things I can taste as I’m writing. A great way to interrupt that gluttonous time between turkey day and New Year’s Eve. Thanks, Dave for the gift. With friends like you who needs fishing?!
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