Saturday, September 20, 2008

Spiced Rare Tuna and Lotsa Veggies Salad

When trying to create new raw recipes, I often look for inspiration in conventional cookbooks that celebrate freshness, seasonality, and simplicity. I'll draw upon the flavor profiles, ingredient combinations, and variety of textures that other chefs have thought up, and then I'll tweak the techniques until I have a raw version of the dish. Favorite non-raw publications of mine include Gourmet, Australian Gourmet Traveler, Jamie Oliver's cookbooks, Tessa Kiro's cookbooks, and good old Moosewood (which was a staple in my cooked vego days). I find that many of these publications favor fresh, seasonal ingredients, and elegant preparations that really highlight the integrity of the ingredients. I'll stay away from anything that relies on lots of canned or processed ingredients - it's really not even worth looking at these for ideas, honestly, because those kind of shortcuts have totally different (and rather unpleasant, in my opinion) flavor profiles.

The idea for this dish came from an Australian Gourmet Traveler cookbook that a friend of mine had lying around. With just a few tweaks, I turned it into a totally raw dish. Only when I tasted the raw tuna, I just wasn't that into it. Maybe it's the quality of the fish I bought - it was labeled as sashimi grade, but you never know until you taste it - but it was just too fishy for me raw. So I gave it a quick sear, which does, unfortunately, destroy a bit of the nutrition, but it made it much more palatable to me. Yes, sometimes I do opt for flavor over rawness. In general, when using fantastic quality produce this kind of compromise isn't necessary, but never be hard on yourself if you prefer to add a cooked ingredient. Stressing over the decision will harm you far more than the sear job.

I thought the original recipe was a little veggie light, so I added slivers of fat asparagus (the first of spring, and was it ever sweet and crisp!) and lovely little cherry tomatoes. There is endless room for variation, so go ahead, use your imagination.

This is a light but satisfying dish. I enjoyed it immensely, and still had room for a dessert of chopped banana and black sapote mixed with shredded coconut and drizzled with honey.

Spiced Rare Tuna and Lotsa Veggies Salad
Large handful of mixed greens
2 stalks of fat asparagus, sliced thinly on the diagonal
3 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 beetroot, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp raw honey
1/2 ripe but firm avocado
100g piece of sashimi grade tuna
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp sea or himalayan salt
good grind of black pepper
olive oil

First pickle the beetroot. Mix the apple cider vinegar with the honey in a small bowl, then add sliced beetroot and toss to coat. Let sit for at least 10 minutes.

Combine cumin, coriander, salt and pepper on a small plate. Rub tuna with a small amount of olive oil, then roll in spice blend to coat. Sear quickly over high heat, using a little bit of olive oil (30 seconds - 1 minute per side). Slice thinly.

Place greens on a plate. Top with slivered asparagus, quartered cherry tomatoes, pickled beetroot slices, avocado slices, and tuna slices. Drizzle with more olive oil, or another oil of your choice (macadamia, pistachio, or walnut would be lovely). Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper, and drizzle a bit of the leftover beetroot pickling juice. Yum! Serves 1.

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