This recipe owes three big thank-yous to Alex and Dan: first, for giving me The Paley's Place Cookbook for Christmas last year; second, for suggesting we eat at the Moonstone Grill when Ed and I were recently in Trinidad Bay (CA) and third, recommending we order the tuna. The tuna* was sesame crusted, seared rare and served with ginger sticky rice, fried leeks and a trio of sauces: Sriracha aiolo, chive oil and beet emulsion. Ed and I seldom order the same thing, but this time we did, a double good choice. When I asked how the tuna was cooked I was told it was rolled in sesame seeds and then pan fried. However, for my first two tries I chose to try a technique found in the Paley's Place recipe for Poppy Seed-Crusted Albacore Tuna with Chickpea Puree and Fennel Salad: rolling the tuna in seeds, poppy in their recipe, sesame in mine, then wrapping it in aluminum foil.
In a small skillet over medium high heat, toast until they are golden brown:
1/2 c sesame seeds
Stir constantly. If the seeds start to pop, lift the pan off the heat and continue stirring until popping subsides.
If planning to use Ginger Sticky Rice make recipe below.
Cut into two equal strips with a ~ 1 1/4" x ~ 1 1/4" cross-section
2/3 # yellow tail tuna (keep strip size in mind when buying tuna)
Roll the tuna pieces in the sesame seeds. Do not use all the sesame seeds at once; there may be more than enough. In this case, if they have not touched the tuna they can be saved for future use.
Tightly wrap the tuna pieces in one layer of aluminum foil.
6 small scallions with
Sesame seed oil
Heat a large dry skillet over high heat (we do this on a skillet on the grill) until very hot, about 5 minutes. Sear the tuna, still wrapped in foil on all sides, about 5 minutes altogether. Cook the scallions for approximately the same time, until wilted and tender. The tuna will cook fairly fast and keep cooking after being removed from heat. Unwrap each piece right after cooking to reduce speed at which it will continue to cook. To also reduce further cooking slice in 1/2 thick pieces. I serve with wasabi, wasabi butter and pickled sushi ginger.
Ginger Sticky Rice
Serves 3 (quantities for 2 servings shown in parens)
In a rice cooker or small pot with cover combine:
1 c (2/3 c) sushi rice
3 t (2 t) crystalized ginger, finely chopped
1 5/8 c (1 c + 1 T) water
2 T (1 T + 1 t) preserved lemon**, include juice (optional - water may be substituted)
Cook until all water is absorbed; keep warm until tuna is ready to serve. I form rice in ramekins and then unmold on individual plates.
* If you go to the Moonstone Grill site and see Big Eye Tuna (not one of the more sustainable tunas) on the menu please be advised the menu is from when the Moonstone Grill opened in 2003. Chris Smith, the restaurant's owner told me that Moonstone no longer serves Big Eye but first grade tuna - the best that they can purchase that is safe catch.
** Preserved Lemon Peel
This recipe is from The Paley's Place Cookbook
"Makes 2 tablespoons
The conventional way of preserving lemons can be time consuming, I devised this quick and easy alternative.
1 lemon, washed and dried
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 t sugar
With a paring knife, remove the peel from the lemon in large pieces, then cut it into julienne strips. In a small saucepan, place the peel and enough cold water to cover and cook over high heat until water boils. Drain and repeat this process twice.
Juice the peeled lemon and strain into a small bowl; add salt and sugar, then the blanched peel. Let the peel macerate at room temperature for 1 hour so the flavors marry. Store, refrigerated, in a tightly sealed plastic [I would use glass] container. It will keep for about a week." (page 219)
VARIATION: This works with salmon too. Top some Salmon with Red Miso Sauce with roasted sesame seeds, wrap tightly in aluminum foil and grill approximately 5 minutes on a side until temperature reaches 125 degrees F.