Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna

Here is some advise.  DON'T GET SICK.  It's just that simple.  I came down with a cold on Tuesday...which really meant that my taste buds were off, I didn't feel like eating or cooking (I KNOW!  can you believe that?) so consequently I decided to be selfish for a few days.....Sorry about not writing, but I had to recover.

When I felt a bit better and was hungry again.....I wanted AHI TUNA in the worst way.  You may not like raw fish or AHI for that matter ( although I cant imagine) So if you don't like AHI or are politically against AHI, you can used Tilapia (see posting for Sesame Crusted Tilapia) or try Shark, Halibut, swordfish, or any other nice meaty fish.  But really, the cool experience is from the AHI.  That absolutely GORGEOUS pink or should we say rather raw center, is such a beautiful color and it perfectly tender...LOVE IT!    UMMM...drizzle it with some wasabi sauce and you are good to go.

 Beautiful, delicious, elegant, fast and HEALTHY.

The recipe title says SESAME CRUSTED.  But don't stick yourself in a box.  Use your imagination!  Try sesame seed with dried ginger and red pepper flakes together.  Use White and black seeds.  Add sun dried tomato bits with your sesame seeds. You can use finely chop almonds, hazelnuts or pumpkin seeds for an alternative and equally delicious coating. It depends on your fish, but adding Parmesan cheese  is not out of the spectrum!  (on tilapia - that would be great!)

Me?  I just love the fish lightly salted and peppered and dipped in a sesame seed mixture.  This time I used a pre-mix of Sesame seeds, dried ginger, black and red peppers. OMG!  What a great mix - I promise you will not be disappointed.

Now lets talk AHI.  I did an experiment,  I purchased individually frozen sashimi grade Ahi fillets at Sprouts...wild caught and GREAT PRICE....about $4-5 per sashimi grade AHI fillet.  I made the seared tuna and it was DELICIOUS - REALLY, REALLY good and you would NEVER have believed it was ever frozen.  But how much more delicious would it be if I spent a billion dollars at Whole foods for fresh, wild caught fillets?  So the NEXT day, I bought gorgeous fillets at about 26.00 per pound....(I know...i winced also!)  So instead of 8-10 dollars, I spent a bit more than 26.00 bucks!  BUT THEY HAVE GOT TO BE BETTER, RIGHT???  For Cryin out loud.....I watch TOP CHEF after all!!!

But alas, they were equally, if not a teensy bit inferior to the Frozen AHI!!!  Yep that's right.  It was good (gorgeous in fact) but really at more than twice the price, It wasn't BETTER and believe me, I would have known.  To spend that kind of money I expected the fish to be A LOT better.....why would you spend that kind of money consistently if it wasn't?   The moral of the story my friends, don't be afraid of the individually frozen fillets.  Just make sure it's SASHIMI grade.

**  NOTE The secret with frozen fish is to defrost in some luke warm water, take them out of the individual packs and blot the fish dry with paper towels.  BLOTTING the fish is the most important step.  You would be surprised at how much moisture is in there!  If you don't, the fish can be a bit mushy and instead of a nice sear, the fish will steam and your coating wont have that crisp texture.

Sesame Crusted Ahi
WW calls this 8 points.....for a 6 oz fillet
Serves 2  (obviously you can make how ever many you want!)

2 Sashimi grade Ahi Tune Fillets (or other fish of choice)
3 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds, white and black is pretty.(mixed with a bit of red pepper flake, dried ginger (optional), black pepper)
olive oil (for searing)
salt and pepper

If your sesame seeds are NOT toasted, toast them know the drill - hot dry pan over high heat, put in the seeds, shake a bit and toast to your liking. Remove immediately and let cool.

This is the time to BLOT your AHI (or other fish) - put the fish on paper towels and lightly press.  I like to turn it over and do it again. (and maybe again....if is has a lot of water) the fish should feel fairly dry.

While you are crusting the fish.  It's a good idea to PREHEAT your pan.  Take the pan you will sear the fillets in and Heat it on high...make sure the pan is DRY - do not add oil

Now it's time to "crust" the fish.  Salt and pepper your fillets.  Just put your sesame seeds (or whatever you are using) on a flat plate. (can you see the white, black sesame and the red pepper flakes?)

 Put in one fillet  press and turn it over and coat the other side.  Repeat with the other fillet.  If you need to scoop up the coating and lightly press it into the fish. - this takes just a minute and VOILA! Crusted fillets!!

This is one recipe where HIGH HEAT should NOT scare you.  Don't be afraid to preheat that's essential.  to a "cooked" or seared outer edge and a gorgeous raw center.  If you are doing other fish, you still preheat, you still sear but you do it for longer so your fish is cooked.

Add your oil....about 2 teaspoons.  You can save some calories by using spray....but the olive oil gives such good's worth it.

Your oil will likely "shimmer" immediately as the pan will be very hot.  IT WILL NOT SPLATTER - since you were heating a dry pan. 

Add your fillets:

I wish the pictures could show you how HOT that pan was.

NOW BE CAREFUL.....they only need a couple of minutes on each side - REALLY.  Don't over cook your will be sad.  If you are cooking other fish cook longer on each side. 

This is a close up of what it looked like when I flipped it.  See the pink (raw) line in the center?  This signals it's time to get them of the pan.

****During the searing time you may want  to quickly throw together the wasabi sauce....I squeeze wasabi in a little dish...(a teaspoon? less if you are sensitive to wasabi), add a couple tablespoons rice vinegar and some soy to taste.  Set aside.

Remove the fillets to a plate:

I served this delicious fish with my super easy fresh cucumber salad (I think I posted about it - check archives) steamed white rice and a bit of melon.

The result?  A gorgeous, seared, but very rare ( was raw in the center), AHI fillet.  FAST, FAST, FAST to make. So easy and so delicious.  You wont need to go to a restaurant and drop big bucks to have this dish, but you will want to make it often.

From my home to yours, ENJOY!

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