Tuesday, June 9, 2009

everything deserves a second chance

for a long time, 
i wasn't a fan of seared tuna.
i felt that it should be raw
or...well, just raw.
fully cooked tuna is thick
and dry and not really 
so appealing to me either.

the fact, that the middle
of seared tuna yields a 
completely different
consistency than the firm
exterior, just
didn't work for me.

but i believe firmly in trying
everything at least once 
and that if you don't like
something, you should sample it again
every once in a while, just to see.
(i've tried this with fennel to little success,
but still i haven't completely given up on the
anise-flavored bulb yet.)
plus, larry loves it. 
so, in recent years,
i've borrowed a bite
here and there from his
plate, thinking, maybe
it's not so bad.
so when fresh and wild tuna
went on sale last week,
i decided to give it a go 
at home.
after a typical recipe-finding
frenzy, i opted to bridge
two recipes, or rather
a concept and a recipe.

the first, tuna "burgers,"
which were really just steaks
grilled and put on a bun,
was appealing, but none 
of the flavor combinations
grabbed me. then i saw this recipe 
for seared tuna
over pasta that's been
tossed with 
green olives
it was worth a shot.

instead of using an 
olive tapenade or bruschetta,
i tossed herb marinated olives
in the food processor with
a clove of garlic,
a small splash of olive oil
and lemon juice.
a couple pulses and i 
had a coarsely chopped spread.

the rest was even easier.
while the tuna seared,
i lightly toasted mini ciabattas,
spread the bottom with a mayo,
the top with the olive mixture,
and added arugula leaves.
once the tuna was on the 
bread, a squeeze of lemon finished
off the deal. 

i had debated whether or not
to slice the tuna before 
placing it on the bread.
while the sandwich was good
as is, next time i would 
slice the seared fillet into 
smaller pieces.
my reasoning?
first - look at the picture.
it's ridiculous.
maybe if i had started out 
with slightly thinner, but
wider pieces,
it wouldn't look
so much like i slapped a
sausage on a hamburger bun.
secondly, it's a mouthful.
i think the effect of the 
whole sandwich
would benefit overall from delicate
slivers instead of an inch-wide piece.

even so, the tangy lemon -
as always - did wonders to brighten
up the fish,
the salty and garlicky olives
added nice texture,
the arugula, a peppery bite
and the mayonnaise, subtle
creaminess that tied the whole
stack together.

surprisingly, considering that
all this really is is a big
piece of seared tuna, not
so cleverly hiding inside
other ingredients, 
one of which was
i liked it. 
i could handle it.
maybe i've turned a corner.

seared tuna, arugula and green olive sandwich
this sandwich is really great for a hot summer evening, when the idea of turning on your oven is enough to make you sweat and the last thing you want to do is spend time standing in the kitchen. the whole thing took about 15 minutes to assemble, but if you pop open a jar of green olive spread instead of mixing together your own, i bet you could get it down to ten.  also, save yourself the trouble and forget the measuring spoon for this one - just estimate.

1 tuna fillet, about 12 ounces (or two six-ounce fillets)
olive oil
2 small ciabatta loaves or other mini crusty breads
about 2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayo
handful of arugula
green olive spread or bruschetta (guide below, or store-bought)
1/2 lemon

if you bought one large fillet, halve evenly, using a very sharp knife. sprinkle both sides of tuna with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. in skillet over high heat, drizzle in a bit of olive oil (i used somewhere between one and two tablespoons). let heat 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until shimmering. add tuna and sear 1 minute, depending on how cooked you like your tuna. turn and cook 1 minute, more. then turn on the side and cook 30 seconds; repeat on remaining side. remove tuna from skillet and place on cutting board 3-5 minutes to rest, turning once.

meanwhile, halve ciabatta. toast lightly. spread bottom half with mayo. top with arugula leaves. spread top half with olive mixture. thinly slice tuna or leave whole and then place on top of arugula leaves. squeeze lemon over tuna. carefully place olive-smeared bread top over tuna. to cut in half, press firmly on either side and using a serrated knife, cut down the center.

quick green olive spread
if you do make your own olive mixture, chances are you'll have some left over. oh, and before you start mixing, taste an olive. if it's way too salty, give them a quick rinse and then shake dry a few times before proceeding.

1-2 large handfuls green olives, pitted and/or stuffed
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1/2 lemon, juiced
splash of olive oil

in bowl of food processor, combine olives and garlic. pulse 5 times or until combined and just chopped. squeeze in lemon juice and splash in a small amount of olive oil. pulse a couple more times, just to combine.

No comments: