One of the things that I wanted to do this year is to re-visit some of the old recipes I published earlier when I first started blogging and give them a fresh face. This Sesame Crusted Seared Tuna Salad Bowl is an adaptation from this Asian Tuna Salad recipe that was published back in 2013. As you will recognize from the somewhat embarrassing photography, it was one of my first posts. An original Barefoot Contessa recipe, at the time it was one of our favorite salads. For some reason, I haven’t made it since I published that post. So the other day when I saw these beautiful yellow fin tuna steaks at our local supermarket, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to revisit and update this recipe. However this time, with a little more detailed information on how to pick the freshest tuna and an updated recipe.
What to look for buying tuna and how to know that it is fresh?
As you may already know, tuna steaks are expensive. Here in Atlanta, they are $18 a pound. So it is important to know how to pick the freshest tuna. For the record, the type of tuna I am talking about here is yellow fin tuna not only because it is widely available, but also because it is perfect for this recipe.
Here are a couple of things to look for while buying tuna:
Look at the color: The color of the tuna should be rich red or pink. If it is grey-ish pink then it is not fresh. However, it is important to note that as it sits in room temperature, it gets a darker color, which explains why the tuna steaks you see in these photos are a little darker than they were when I first got them out of the fridge. I was photographing as quick as I could, but still as they sat in room temperature they got a little darker then they originally were.
Smell it: It should have a light pleasant fishy smell. If it smells too strong and its color is darker or grey-ish pink, do not waste your money.
Press on it with your index finger: When lightly pressed on it with your index finger, it should be firm and bounce back. If it creates a dent, it is probably not fresh. It should also be resilient and somewhat hard.
Buy it from a trusted resource: According to this site, some scammers in tuna industry pump carbon monoxide into the fish to turn it and keep it red. The carbon monoxide turns it into a beautiful red color making it hard to know if it is fresh or not. That is why, it is important to both look at the color and give it a quick smell.
About this recipe:
In my opinion what makes this recipe is the sauce. It is an Asian-style dressing with a lot of sweet and savory flavors coming from soy sauce, lime zest and juice, Sriracha, and garlic. As you will read in the recipe below, after I crusted the steaks with toasted sesame seeds I lightly seared them in a non-stick skillet, only 1-minute on each side. I wanted them almost raw; because I knew that the sauce would continue to cook it, just like it did in ceviche recipes. Plus, in my opinion the whole reason for buying the best quality tuna and paying premium pricing is to enjoy it creaminess while it is served semi-raw. After it sat in the sauce for 10-15 minutes, I mixed it with a salad that I made by mixing baby arugula, ripe avocados, scallions, and jalapeños. Here, it is important to mention that if you prefer it cooked medium or medium-well, you can sear it up to 3 minutes on each side and let it sit in the sauce longer, up-to 30 minutes.
I served it in a bowl with forbidden (black) rice (recipe here) as I thought that the earthy and nutty tones of this kind of rice complimented the salad very well. However, I am sure any other starch like brown, wild, or even white rice would work well. Also, as you may have already realized from the last 3 recipes I published (1, 2, and 3), I have been obsessed with serving food in bowls. Some people on the Internet call bowl dishes ‘the casserole of the millennials’. Even though I am not a millennial, I cannot agree more. I feel like it makes my life so much easier. With that being said, if you want you can just serve it as a salad, just by itself.
Sesame Crusted Seared Tuna Salad Bowl
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4
- Category: Asian
- For the sauce:
- 5 tablespoons of limejuice from 4-5 limes, freshly squeezed
- Zest of 2 limes
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha, or any other hot sauce you like (i.e. Tabasco)
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- For the Sesame Crusted Tuna:
- 1 1/2 pounds (2-3 pieces) of Yellow Fin Tuna Steak, pat-dried with paper towels
- vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or peppercorn mix)
- 1 cup of black & white sesame seeds
- For the salad:
- 2 cups of baby arugula, rinsed and dried
- 2 ripe avocados, pitted and cut into smaller cubes
- 5 stalks of scallions, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- For the Bowl:
- 4 cups of cooked forbidden (black) or brown rice
- To make the sauce: Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set it aside.
- To make the Sesame Crusted Seared Tuna Steaks: Brush both sides of each tuna steak with 1/2 teaspoon (each) vegetable oil. Season them with salt and pepper. Place the sesame seeds on a large plate and gently press both sides of tuna steak in sesame seeds to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet until it is just beginning to smoke. Add tuna steaks (make sure they are not touching each other) and cook for 1 minute (or more, please refer to blog post if you prefer it cooked medium) without moving them. Using thongs flip the steaks and cook for another minute. Place the steaks on a cutting board and slice into cubes. Transfer them in a mixing bowl and pour the reserved sauce over the steaks. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
- To make the salad: Place baby arugula, avocados, scallions, and jalapeno in a salad bowl. Add in the marinated tuna steaks into the salad (with all of its juices) and give it a gentle stir. Taste for seasoning and add if necessary.
- To serve: When ready to serve, place a cup of forbidden rice at the bottom of a bowl. Spoon some of the salad and its juices on top. Continue with the rest of the bowls. Serve immediately.
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