To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.
~François de La Rochefoucauld

Yes, I have written about tuna more extensively in a post entitled Ahi “Nicoise” dated May 13, 2010 — look at the search box.  But, please abstain in devouring blue fin tuna as it appears low in numbers.

Then again, earlier (February 7, 2009) there existed here a post about ubiquitous steak tartare — although sublime, but with the firm texture of this finfish, tuna tartare is sapid, damn near nympholeptic.  This does not imply that steak tartare is equally divine, as both are toe curlers.  But, it is a cooling, light, dainty often app repast with tuna diced into chunks and fluidly soothed by Asian flavors (as below) in a chilled vessel, a dish which really did not emerge until recently about 3-4 or so decades ago…perhaps in Paris by a Japanese born, yet French trained, chef by the name of Tachibe — who knows?

A chilled dry white (preferably one that is French oriented or sauvignon blanc) or rosé is essential as quaff.

1/4 C canola oil
2 t grated fresh ginger, with some small chunks retained

1 – 1 1/3 lb sashimi (perhaps sushi) grade tuna, diced into 1/4″ pieces

1 t jalapeño, minced with seeds and veins removed
1 1/2 t wasabi powder
1/2 t mirin
1/2 t saké
1 t sesame seeds
1 T scallion, finely chopped
1 1/2 T lime juice
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Non-pareil capers, rinsed
Caviar

In a bowl, add the ginger and chunks for a few hours to allow to marinate some in the frig.

In a large glass chilled bowl, add tuna to ginger oil as well as small ginger chunks, the cilantro, jalapeño, wasabi, mirin, saké, sesame seeds, scallions, lime juice, then mix well with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Using fingers, very slightly strew over the tuna tartare with capers and then caviar.

Serve on chilled shallow glass salad bowl(s) over some flared avocado slices or cilantro or watercress, something like that or those kith and kin.

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I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.
~Oscar Wilde

El camión.  Once she learned where the chicharrónes truck was to be found daily in the República Dominicana (DR), life became even better.  Freshly showered again, she would stealthily slip out the door to begin her quest each late afternoon, seeking the truck on foot angling for the smiling guy, perhaps even furtively. Then, that small, greasy box of heaven came home oh, so slyly for the first couple of times. She presented the rectangular, styrofoam carton somewhat self-consciously obsequious yet openly epicurean, but not coquettish. A sublime surfeit for me.

Each day in the late afternoon a similar ritual happened, almost zen-like, even if the truck were parked in a dissimilar place which likely made her search even more fetching.  I awaited, her unknowing (or so she thought) yet sort of low-keyed giddy.

Chicharrónes  first became an app and then later almost an entrée, but were an ever blissful repast — especially with a local rum & tonic or a beer and bare feet in the sand.

Chicharrónes are ubiquitous throughout southern Spain (Andalusia), Latin America, South America, the Caribbean, Mesoamerica, Guam, the Philippines. Recipes vary markedly amongst cultures and kitchens, so much like other cuisines.

CHICHARRONES DE CERDO (DOMINICAN PORK CRACKLINGS)

4 lb pork belly, thickly sliced
4 qts cold water
1 T sea salt

2 t dried oregano
2 t dried thyme
2 t cumin seeds, seared briefly and ground
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C orange juice

1/2 C canola oil

Salsa verde + salsa roja
Crema
6 lime wedges

Make slits throughout pork belly slices at about 2″ intervals, but do not cut through. Allow the pork, water and sea salt to immerse, marinate for a few hours. In a heavy, Dutch oven mix pork belly, water, salt, oregano, pepper and orange juice. Cook over medium heat until the water has been absorbed and evaporated, but there will be pork oil left behind.  Be aware of the spatter.

Add canola oil and fry until the meat has turned a dark golden brown hue and the skin is crispy.

Remove the meat and place on paper towels, let the pork belly drain and cool to room temperature. Cut into smaller pieces, about 3″ and, at the time of serving, garnish lightly with dollops of salsa verde & roja, crema, and then lime wedges.

A tandoor is a cylindrical clay pot used in south Asian cuisine, notably (but not limited to) northern India and Pakistan, in which food is cooked over hot charcoal or wooden fire at high temperatures. The earthen oven is commonly sunk neck deep in the ground. Strictly speaking, Tandoori simply describes a dish cooked in a tandoor, which can include meats, fish, poultry or breads…but, in western parlance the term has seemed to have been enlarged to include a spice mix, which varies from kitchen to kitchen. Not having a true tandoor at hand—which would no doubt violate numerous building codes—this is the closest we can get.

SEARED YELLOWTAIL TUNA TANDOORI

1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
2 T tandoori spices*
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 (4 oz) yellowtail tuna filets, fat and skin trimmed away
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1/2 C rice wine vinegar
1 T honey
1/2 t mirin
1 C extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 C cilantro leaves
2 C watercress
1/2 C arugula

Lemon zest

In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, honey, mirin, salt and pepper. In a steady, narrow stream, slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly. Set aside.

In a bowl, place olive oil, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of the tandoori, salt and pepper. Rub the top of each filet with the smashed garlic, season with salt, pepper and the rest of the tandoori on both sides. Then dip the filets in the bowl, coating both sides evenly. Reserve the remaining flavored oil for sauce.

Place a heavy skillet over medium to medium high heat, and sear the tuna filets gently, approximately 2 minutes on each side. When done, the tuna should be rare in the middle but not cold. (Alternatively, the tuna could be grilled over a charcoal or wood fire prepared to medium high heat to loosely imitate a tandoor.)

Toss greens with vinaigrette, arrange tuna over, and then drizzle reserved sauce over the top. Grate a touch of lemon zest over each filet before serving.

*Tandoori Spices

2 T coriander seeds
2 T cumin seeds
1 T cardamom seeds

3 T sweet paprika
2 T turmeric
2 T sea salt
1 T freshly ground black pepper
1 T ground ginger
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t cayenne pepper

Strew the coriander, cumin and cardamom seeds in a dry heavy skillet over medium heat and roast for a few minutes until essences are released. Place in a spice or coffee grinder and reduce to a powder. Then, place in a bowl, add remaining ingredients and mix well. Stores well tightly covered in a cool, dry place.