Albacore tuna tataki with baby vegetables and nasturtiums
- 8 oz boneless, skinless albacore tuna loin 225 g
- 1 tsp shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice seasoning) 5 mL
- 1 tsp grapeseed oil 5 mL
- 1 Tbsp Maldon salt or sea salt 15 mL
- 1/4 cup ponzu sauce 60 mL
- 8 baby carrots 8
- 8 baby white turnips 8
- 8 baby golden beets 8
- 12 baby shiitake mushrooms 12
- 8 baby zucchinis 8
- 8 radishes 8
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil 5 mL
- 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil 15 mL
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar 15 mL
- 12 nasturtium leaves 12
- 4 nasturtium blossoms 4
Simple preparations are the true measure of a great product: the less you do to food, the more it shows. Tataki, which involves briefly searing meat or fish over a very hot flame, is one such preparation. For this dish, I use albacore tuna because it has a richer flavour and softer texture that I find superior to its bright red cousin, yellowfin. The peppery tones of the nasturtiums pair well with the richness of the tuna. Look for shichimi togarashi at Asian food stores and Maldon salt at fine grocers.
Season all sides of the tuna loin with the shichimi. Heat a sauté pan on high heat. When the pan is almost smoking, add grapeseed oil and then the tuna loin. Sear the fish on each side for 30 to 40 seconds. Remove from the pan, transfer to a plate and refrigerate immediately to stop the cooking process. Allow the tuna to cool for 1 hour.
Peel the carrots, turnips and beets. Cut the stems from the shiitake mushrooms and discard. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice the carrots, turnips, beets, zucchinis and radishes lengthwise, as thinly as possible. Slice the shiitake mushrooms.
Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil on high heat. Add the turnips and beets and blanch for 90 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the ice water to stop the cooking. Add the carrots and mushrooms and cook for 60 seconds, then transfer them to the ice water. Repeat with the zucchini, cooking it for 30 seconds before plunging it into the ice water. The radishes do not need blanching.
Transfer all of the blanched vegetables to a tea towel to drain. Pat them dry. In a bowl, combine the blanched vegetables and the radishes. Add the sesame and grapeseed oils and the rice vinegar and toss well.
Using a very sharp knife, slice the tuna into 12 to 16 slices. Arrange 3 nasturtium leaves on each plate and top with an eighth of the vegetables. Place 3 or 4 slices of tuna atop the vegetables and season with some Maldon (or sea) salt. Top with the remaining vegetables and garnish each plate with a nasturtium blossom and a drizzle of the ponzu sauce.
German Riesling will work well, or have some fun trying different varieties of chilled top-quality sake.