Mum was brave today! I served a Japanese menu featuring seared ahi tuna, something, I’m sure, Mum has never had. Her palate is decidedly English. I imagine English menus as boiled, unseasoned plain food. I suppose English food is sometimes dressed up with a bit of curry or some other spices rooted in their imperialist days, but generally, it has never sounded pleasant to me. Kidney pie, kippers, clotted cream and all sorts of odd puddings – blech!
Anyway, I digress. For Mum’s big adventure, I served pan seared ahi tuna on a bed of wilted bok choy with a side of soba noodles sauteed with shiitake mushrooms and edamame. I served a small cup of a sesame soy dipping sauce for the tuna. I was so pleased with how it turned out. Everything was super simple to make, but so delicious and very beautiful on the plate.
I marinated the tuna in soy, rice wine vinegar, sriracha sauce (sweet and hot Asian chili sauce), garlic, ginger and green onion. And I added a bit of brown sugar to the marinade too. I figured the sugar would help create a nice caramelization on the fish when I seared it. It worked great! I marinated the fish for about 2 hours. I seared it on all sides in a pan of hot peanut oil. Just a minute or two on each side. I let it rest for 5 minutes before I sliced it. While it was resting, I assembled the soba noodle side dish.
Soba noodles are a Japanese pasta made from buckwheat. They taste sort of like whole wheat pasta, but a little more creamy. While the soba noodles were boiling in salted water, I sauteed garlic, ginger, green onions, matchstick carrots and edamame. Edamame are shelled soy beans. They have a very delicate flavor and when cooked, their texture is somewhat like a sweet pea or a little like a lima bean. I thought they added a nice touch of color and texture to the noodles.
I had washed and chopped the bok choy ahead of time. I also sauteed the crunchy lower stems ahead of time. At the last minute I reheated the pan and added the chopped leafy green portion of the bok choy. It wilts in seconds, so a quick toss in the hot pan and it was ready to plate.
For the dipping sauce, I used the left over tuna marinade. I heated it to a boil, added just a drop of sesame oil (no more than a drop, that stuff is potent!) and poured a little into some pretty sake cups I have. They made the perfect vessel for the sauce.
Mum ate the noodles first and quite enjoyed them. I could tell she was very leery about the tuna on her plate. She pushed it around a bit, cut a few small pieces, pushed them around for a bit longer and then, finally took the plunge! A quick dip in the sauce and into her mouth. I so enjoyed the look on her face. A combination of relief and pleasure. She finished all the tuna and everything else on her plate. She actually enjoyed all of it. I was a little relieved myself.
I searched for Asian dessert recipes and fell a little short. I ended up making a fruit compote of pineapple, mango and banana with dark rum and cinnamon. I served it warm over vanilla ice cream. It was delicious. It seemed more tropical than Asian, but rather exotic, none the less.
I was inspired to prepare this menu by a Food Network show starring Anne Burrell. I love her style and her quirky personality. She is an amazing chef and she prepared a similar menu and made it look so easy. As it turned out, it was very easy to make and it looked and tasted fantastic!