Okay, so this one was hard to name. Every title I came up with made it sound... well... simplistic. The ingredients and preparation are both simple, but this belies its tastiness. If you think I'm being ridiculous for calling cooked tuna tasty, I feel your pain. At most restaurants it's either lightly seared (at which point you're basically eating sashimi), or it's cooked all the way making it a hard puck that both looks and tastes a bit like cardboard.
Let me assure you that there is a middle ground. One that makes for a delightfully melt-in-your-mouth tender, juicy steak that's more beef-like than any other kind of fish I can think of. The trick is in marinating it in an ample amount of olive oil, then cooking it through until the middle ⅓ is a nice pink.
As with all simple dishes, the quality of the ingredients is paramount for good results. The tuna slices should be glistening, firm and not smell the least bit fishy (dried out, mushy or stinky are not words that should come to mind when you're picking out any fish).
I used new potatoes, asparagus and baby carrots, which just came into season. I also took advantage of the carrot leaves for their flavor, but you could just as easily use fennel bulbs and leaves, or some other fragrant vegetable that's in season, or even fresh herbs like parsley, rosemary, or basil.
- 2 tuna steaks (~200 grams each)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon zest peeled in strips
- ground black pepper (to taste)
- Kosher salt (to taste)
For roast veggies
- 4 baby carrots (with leaves, chopped)
- 3 baby fingerling potatoes
- 6 cloves garlic peeled
- 4 stalks asparagus
- olive oil
- Kosher salt
- black pepper fresh ground
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Place the tuna steaks on a plate and drizzle a good helping of olive oil on them, flipping a few times to make sure they are well coated. Sprinkle with black pepper, then rub the cut side of the lemon zest into the steaks and leave them on (do not salt the tuna steaks yet).
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prep the veggies. For the carrots, make one cut at a 45 degree angle, then roll it ¼ turn away from you then make another cut at the same angle. This is called rangiri in Japan, and it's great because it makes all the pieces of the carrot roughly the same thickness (which you control by how far apart you cut) so they cook evenly. I used a variety of long skinny potatoes and cut them up the same way. Then just toss the carrots, potatoes, and garlic in a good amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. Put this in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are almost done.
- Add the asparagus and carrot leaves, toss adding more olive oil if it looks like it needs it then put it back in the oven.
- Now it's time to cook the steaks. Heat a heavy bottomed stainless steel or cast iron pan over medium heat until very hot. Remove the lemon zest and discard. Flip the steaks over a few times to make sure they're well coated in oil, then sprinkle with kosher salt on both sides. Place the steaks in the hot pan and do not disturb them until they are ready to flip. You'll know they're ready when the bottom third of the steak is brown (the top ⅔'s will be red). If the pan was hot enough and they're ready to flip, they should be fairly easy to dislodge and turn with some tongs, but if they are sticking, use a spatula. Cook this side until the bottom ⅓ is brown (now the bottom and top thirds should be brown and the middle ⅓ should be pink, not red).
- After flipping the tuna, take the veggies out of the oven and plate them. When the tuna is done, put them on top of the veggies right away, so they don't overcook. Drizzle 1 tsp of lemon juice and 1 tsp of olive oil on each steak and serve immediately.