Friday, January 20, 2012

Tuna Steak!

My new favorite dinner

My track record with cooking tuna isn't the best.  I always overcook it and it comes out kind of gray and dry.  But I was watching Ann Burrell on The Cooking Network and saw how she cooked tuna steaks.  I didn't write any of it down, but I got the main idea.   I marinated the tuna in soy sauce, sesame seeds, lemon and Sriracha sauce and then grilled it in a very hot pan so it had a nice char on the outside and was delicious and rare on the inside.  It worked like a charm!

Yellowfin tuna aka sushi quality tuna

I bought yellowfin tuna which you could eat raw so I didn't have to worry about serving it rare.  When you are buying tuna you also have to consider mercury levels.  You will find high mercury levels in canned tuna, and in species that have high muscle mass.  Mercury accumulates differently in different tissue types: mercury has an affinity for muscle and not fatty tissue, so the leanest fish tend to have the highest concentration.

But there also seem to be other factors in play. Although yellowfin tuna is very lean, this species tends to have lower accumulation of mercury, likely because yellowfin are typically smaller than other tuna and are harvested at a younger age. Because bigeye and bluefin species eat three times more than yellowfin to maintain their energy level, they might slowly increase the level of toxins (i.e. mercury) over time.

Hello Gorgeous!

I found a shallow ramekin that accommodated the tuna perfectly.  I wanted to be able to practically submerge the tuna without going through an entire bottle of soy sauce.  This piece was about $10 - the pricing was $17 per pound. 

Marinate for about an hour

I got home from work and immediately got everything together so the tuna could marinate during the civilized cocktail hour.  I was careful to add only a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice because it would "cook" the tuna.  As you probably know, that's what cerviche is - fish marinated in fresh lemon juice and sea salt.  See my previous post about cerviche:

Marinade: Sriracha sauce, Teriyaki with sesame, lemon, salt & pepper

When you go to the fish monger, find a really thick steak.  The one I bought was about an inch and a half thick.  This recipe won't work with a thin slice of tuna - it will overcook if you leave it on the stove long enough to get those grill marks we want.

It cooks fast!

The next important thing to keep in mind is to be sure your skillet is really, really hot.  Mine is so well seasoned I don't have to add olive oil.  I put the pan over a medium to high heat and leave it for 5 - 10 minutes.  I cooked the first side for two minutes.  The second side took one minute.  I cooked the sides briefly - about 30 seconds or so.

Cook on all four sides

This dish tastes like no other in my repertoire.  I think it's because I seldom marinate.  Usually Mediterranean cooking emphasizes the main event - in this case the tuna.  But I found the marinade gave the tuna a subtle flavor and helped with the charring on the outside of the tuna.

Top with scallions and served with roasted broccoli, garlic and tomato

The roasted broccoli I served on the side was cooked to crispy perfection (recipe to follow).  Give these tuna steaks a try and you'll never miss the steaks of the sirloin variety!

Sirloin or tuna?


Approximately 1/2 lb yellowfin tuna steak per person
3/4 cups Teriyaki Sauce with sesame seeds
1/4 cup Sriracha sauce
1 tspn fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup scallions for garnish
Salt & pepper to taste


Salt & pepper tuna steak on both sides to taste (less is more!)
Pour Teriyaki sauce in a ramekin deep enough to accommodate tuna steak
Add fresh lemon juice
Spread Sriracha sauce on all four sides of steak
Let marinate for 45 minutes - 1 hour
Pre-heat cast iron skillet for 5 - 10 minutes over medium heat
(Spray pan with cooking spray if it's not seasoned)
Cook first side for two minutes
Cook second side for one minute
Cook sides for 15 - 30 seconds each
Garnish with scallions and squeeze fresh lemon juice over steak
Serve immediately and enjoy!

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