Friday, September 9, 2016

Italian Tuna

Last Year's Post:  Grilled Hawaiian Filipino Pork
Two Years Ago:   Pesto for the Freezer

Long ago and far away one of my first experiences with fresh tuna was at a business conference in Florida.  I've always liked canned tuna so I figured I'd give the fresh version it a try when I saw it on the menu.  When the server asked me how I wanted it cooked, the guy across the table (who happened to be an avid sport fisherman from Maine) said "Please don't order it well done, or even medium well."  I'm sure I looked surprised so he explained that tuna dries out quickly and becomes chewy when overcooked so you should always order it medium rare at most.  Great advice!  I've ordered it medium-rare ever since and haven't been disappointed.  If you find extremely high quality tuna you can even sear both edges and leave the interior basically raw.  Sliced and served with an soy dipping sauce, it's delicious and tastes just like a dish I've ordered at Ruth Chris' Steakhouse in the past.

The key to cooking tuna correctly is a really hot grill, a thick cut of tuna, and close attention to timing.  Do not wander off.

Make the Italian pepper sauce before you start grilling so the tuna doesn't sit too long and either get cold or overcooked (from carry-over cooking) before you're ready to eat.  You can cook the pasta in advance also - just toss it with a little olive oil so it doesn't stick together in a ball.

Did you know that tuna is an excellent source of nutrients and Omega-3's as well as a high-quality protein?  Add that to the health benefits of olive oil and a Mediterranean diet in general and you have a pretty darn healthy meal.

P.S.  If you have any leftovers, cut the tuna into bite-sized pieces and combine with the pasta and remaining sauce.  Cover and refrigerate, then add a little shredded parmesan on top the following day for an excellent cold lunch salad.

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Italian Tuna
Serves 4

24 ounces tuna steaks, approximately 1” thick
1 cup olive oil plus additional for brushing
½ cup minced parsley
½ cup marinated roasted red peppers, chopped
½ cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooked pasta or polenta

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup olive oil with parsley, red peppers, green onions, lemon juice, capers, oregano and pepper to taste.  Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, to combine flavors.  Keep warm.

Preheat the grill to high.  Brush tuna steaks with olive oil and season with pepper.  Grill the tuna for approximately 5 minutes per side until well grill-marked but still very pink in the center.  Let rest for a minute or two.

Slice the tuna and serve over pasta or polenta with the sauce spooned on top. 

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