AHI TUNA


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“The secret to cooking Ahi Tuna is not to overcook it”

Ahi = Hawaiian for Yellowfin Tuna. Its tasty! AHI TUNA STEAKS are in the frozen fish section at Trader Joe’s. From the package (“Wild Caught, Spain”) it sounds like it was fished from Spanish waters.

How To Cook: Most important, a slow defrost overnight in the fridge is the best method. Slow defrosting is best = but in an “emergency” you try putting the package in a shallow dish and running under the faucet with Cold water. Do not nuke it whatever you do, that will ruin it for sure. The package states you should “remove from package before defrosting”. Huh? I’m not quite sure why… does anyone have a clue why they would say that? Anyway I defrost it in the fridge, and once the fish is defrosted I put it in a container to marinate it for a half hour to an hour. As far as a marinade I generally make a typical Asian/Japanese style marinade: Soy sauce, fresh grated ginger, fresh ground black pepper, a pinch of honey or brown sugar, plus a bit of some oil, either olive or for extra Asian flavor a teaspoon of TJ’s dark roasted sesame oil. You can add some type of acid if you like: a touch of cider vinegar, lemon juice, or sake if you have it. You will serve it with some citrus (fresh Lemon or Lime)

Cooking Ahi Tuna: It is crucial that you don’t overcook tuna. Tuna is easily overcooked so be very careful with your cook time. Personally I think AHI is best cooked in the Japanese “Tataki-style” way being  searing the outside on all sides and leaving the center barely cooked, a bit pink. I cook it in a black cast iron pan over med-high heat with a little neutral oil, searing the outside for 60-90 seconds on one side. Flip it to cook the other side for a minute. If you want you can use tongs to sear the sides of the fish (but again be careful not to overcook it) Take the fish out of the pan. Let it rest for a few minutes before you slice it, against the grain like a steak. Be sure to save the pan juices and any juice that runs out on the cutting board and pour that over it.

Deglaze the pan with some water, rice vinegar, or or some extra marinade that you saved at the beginning. I found that if you marinated the fish and use that marinade to deglaze the pan there is protein that coagulates when you cook it, so it glops up a little (I just thin it with soy and some water, it doesn’t bother me too much,  it makes it thicker thats all). If that gloppy stuff bothers you, make a sauce fresh to serve with the fish. Here’s some ideas….

“Butter – Shoyu” (Soy Butter Sauce) Put a dollop of butter in the pan along with a little soy sauce, a great combination. Pour over the Ahi and serve with slices of fresh lemon or lime.

PONZU SAUCE: Combine Soy sauce and Lemon Juice. Great combo!

The photo shows my finished dish.

It should end up just seared on the outside and pink in the center…just how pink is up to you. I like mine like it is in the center in the pic (pink! just this side of raw) while my wife likes it as it is cooked on the ends (medium). As a final touch, I sprinkled some sesame seeds on top, sliced it against the grain, and put it on a bed of arugula, pouring the pan juices over the top.

Ahi Tuna is delicious. You could even try it as “poke” I guess (ceviche style). I am willing but my (Japanese) wife won’t let me make it that way, as she says this is not “sashimi grade tuna” –  which costs three times as much, selling for about $25/lb instead of this at $8/lb. So at 8 bucks a pound for a nice fish dish, this is a another good deal from Mr. Trader Joe.

Ahi Tuna is one of my favorite fishes that TJ’s carries, and I highly recommend trying it if you never have before. If you have any leftovers, it is delicious served cold the next day, maybe on a bed of rice or a salad.

ASIAN MARINADE: 2-3 tbs soy sauce; 1″ peeled fresh ginger, grated; fresh ground black pepper, a little honey or brown sugar, teaspoon of sesame oil (or a neutral oil) plus lemon or lime juice for a marinade (you can make a bit more and save some to serve on the side). Marinate in the fridge (defrosted) for at least 1 hour, turning it once. Cook as desired.

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