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Seared Tuna with Avocado and Fennel-Onion-Caper Salsa

Seared Tuna with Avocado and Fennel-Onion-Caper Salsa

When the local fishermen are bringing tuna to the docks I can't resist this preparation. Most of the local catch goes directly to Tokyo, but apparently not all of it, for which I'm grateful. We may be getting tuna that doesn't, for some reason, meet the Tsukiji Fish Market mimimun standards but, not being as knowledgable as the legendary fish-graders there, I'm pretty happy with the cuts that show up in the case at Harbor Fish here in Portland.

The tuna is given a quick sear in a hot pan, leaving the center raw and fresh. The pairing of seared tuna with avocado is, of course, a reference to a popular maki item at sushi bars, and the salsa was inspired by the fennel and parsley in our farm share basket this week. I served this with a fresh salad and -- what else? -- a mound of Japanese rice.

Seared Tuna with Avocado and Fennel-Onion-Caper Salsa

1 lb tuna steaks, 3/4" thick
3 T fennel minced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
2 T capers, rinsed
3 T white wine vinegar
2 T butter
1 T honey
2 scallions minced
fish sauce to taste
hot sauce to taste
1 avocado, sliced thin
2 T parsley minced
olive oil

Sauté the onion and fennel slowly in olive oil for about 5 minutes, stirring. Add the capers, garlic and vinegar. Allow the mixture to bubble for a few seconds, then remove from heat and stir in the butter, honey and scallions. Season to taste with fish sauce and hot sauce. Set aside.

Cut the tuna steaks into strips 1 -1/2" wide. Wash them and dry thoroughly. Heat a tablespoonful of olive oil in a heavy pan until very hot but not smoking. Add the tuna and sear for 60 seconds, then turn and sear another 40 seconds. Off heat, scatter a pinch of coarse salt over the steaks.

To serve, lay avocado slices over the fish, then add the salsa and scatter on some parsley.

1. To get a good crust on the surface the fish must be very dry when it hits the pan.
2. The timing is for 3/4" thick steaks fresh from the refrigerator. If your fish cuts are thinner, thicker, colder or warmer than that, adjust timing accordingly. Remember that the fish continues to cook for a while after it's removed from the pan so if you are making your adjustments by eye factor that in if you don't want to overcook your fish.


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Looks awesome. It's sad when people overcook tuna. I'll have to try out your recipe. Thanks.

this looks fabulous stephen and that salsa sounds particularly good.

Wow, that looks terrific. I am going to have to try that - I love the sweet / sour / salty combination you have going on in the salsa - sounds great.

Stephen - Though not the biggest fish eater, quickly seared tuna appeals to me as does a great steak. I love the touch of fennel, one of my favorite vegetables (as well as herb and spice when one takes into account the fronds and seeds) as well as the capers, which I hadn't considered using as a sauce for tuna before. Lovely.

I just bent my fork on the computer screen.


Hey, we just had a perfect summer dinner and this photo of yours made my mouth water.

Water = contained drool.

Be proud. Belly-bump your computer screen.

Happy summer evenings, my friend!

Great looking tuna! I'll have to try the seasonings... I like to do tuna like that, with sesame seeds and maybe some soy sauce/honey, but then cook it, a la Alton Brown, directly over a chimney half full of burning coals, for about 30 seconds per side.

Made this for dinner tonight and it was wonderful. The blend of the avocado with the salsa was superb. I served it with steamed asparagus and coconut ginger quinoa. MMMMMMMMM

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