Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pepita Crusted Ahi Tuna with Pumpkin/Poblano Rice, Pickled Onions, Cilantro Pecan Pesto and Jalapeno Ponzu


This sounds a lot more difficult than it is, and trust me, the results are worth the effort you have to make. If you start the night before, it's a piece of cake!! A rare tuna has to be one of my favorite things to eat. I usually think of sushi/tuna in the summer, but the pumpkin elements make it a perfect transition into fall, which believe it or not, is not in full effect here in Texas! This is a southwest take on seared tuna. Make the sauces in advance, and this will take you 30 minutes to prepare and plate. The key to great tuna is... GREAT TUNA! I got mine at a great local DFW spot, TJ's - I'm sure you have something similar in your neighborhood. Barely searing (about 30 seconds per side) gives you that little ring of sear, with a beautiful rare middle. Don't you dare overcook Grade 1 tuna!!!! Read all about the pieces of this delicious little puzzle after the jump. As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Pepita Crusted Ahi Tuna with Pumpkin/Poblano Rice (serves 2-4)
You will need:
Pepita Crusted Tuna
  • 1lb Grade 1 Ahi Tuna in logs (have your fishmonger set you up with nice cuts or DIY)
  • 2 C roasted, salted pumpkin seeds, minced or processed to a fine powder in a food processor
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Vegetable oil for searing
Pumpkin/Poblano Sushi Rice
  • 4 C Sushi Rice (prepared according to package directions)
  • 1 C pumpkin puree - fresh not canned and passed through a food mill if possible for ultra smoothness!
  • 1 blackened poblano pepper, skinned, seeds removed, small dice
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 T rice wine vinegar (seasoned)
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
Cilantro Pecan Pesto
  • 1.5 C cilantro leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5 large basil leaves
  • 1 C Roasted, salted pecan halves
  • 1 C Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 c Roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 C Olive oil (use until you achieve the right consistency)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt + more to taste
  • 1 tsp Black pepper
Jalapeno Ponzu
  • 1/2 C ponzu 
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 6 thin slices of jalapeno
Pickled Red Onions (click for recipe)

Make the ponzu by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Make the pickled onions according to the recipe, refrigerate until ready to use.  Make the pesto by combining all ingredients and half the olive oil in a food processor or blender. Add the additional olive oil in a steady stream while the food processor runs until the pesto reaches the desired consistency. Refrigerate until an hour before serving. Let come to room temperature. An hour before serving, roast your poblano on the grill or under the broiler. Place in a plastic bag and seal, the steam will help remove the skin. Peel, discard seeds and chop. Set aside. Prepare sushi rice according to package directions. I add rice wine vinegar to my water before adding the rice. In the mean time, melt butter on medium low heat, add garlic and saute until fragrant, but not brown. Add poblano and pumpkin puree and stir for 2-3 minutes as flavors meld. When rice is finished, add to the poblano/pumpkin mixture and stir until it's evenly combined. This is such a gorgeous yellow color! You are ALMOST DONE. Chop pumpkin seeds on a cutting board or other surface, mix in cayenne, salt and paprika. The goal is that all the seeds are roughly the same size and chopped finely. Heat 2 T of vegetable or canola oil until almost smoking on medium high heat. Roll the tuna log (working in 6 inch long portions) in the spices and seeds until coated. Place in pan, searing each side until there are a couple of millimeters of cooked tuna surrounding the rare center. Remove and set aside. Finish the remaining tuna in the same manner. When you are done, slice into 1/4" slices crosswise (see picture for plating). Serve on top of rice. Spoon several teaspoons of the ponzu on top. with a squeeze bottle or a spoon, surround the rice with pesto (I like to get artsy with this). Top with pickled onions. Serve with additional ponzu sauce.

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