Seared Togarashi Tuna Steaks & Winter Citrus Salad
Guys. We have nearly made it through the wilderness of healthy-eating January. Take a moment to congratulate yourself for every hearty pile of kale, every serving of whole grains and every lean protein eaten over the past several weeks – they’ve been doing the Lord’s work, atoning for past indulgence with a cleansing wash of nutrients. I have to say, though, this year it has felt more like a gift than a penance.
With salads and grain bowls, oatmeal and juices, we have been reborn. Maybe I’m just getting old and persnickety, but after a year or two of tweaking my eating habits, I’m actually starting to like such adult concepts as more-vegetables-than-starch on a plate or fruit for dessert. I know, I KNOW.
Somebody take my temperature.
Though not following any “cleanse” formula per se, I’ve been stealing heavily from the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse approach, which is more about positive reinforcement and making delicious, healthful meals you actually want to eat, and have found it has led me to celebrate ingredients I wouldn’t typically rely on (I’m particularly fond of the white bean salad with pomegranate and scallions, as well as the smokey spiced chickpeas!). There’s a heavy focus on superfoods, whole grains, lean meats and boosting flavor with spices rather than fat. it has even helped me to refocus my sweet tooth somewhat, tricking me into choosing lightly sweetened fruit as a substitute for dessert (it encourages nibbles of dark chocolate bark, too – one of my favorite craving-busters).
With lean, meaty tuna dusted with spicy, flavorful togarashi, a solid base of greens and the flavor punch of sweet-tart winter citrus rounded out with creamy, earthy avocado, this meal embraces some of those principles. Togarashi, or shichimi togarashi, is a Japanese spice translated roughly to “seven spice chile pepper.” Mildly spicy and complex, the spice blend usually consists of primarily of a few types of ground chiles, sesame seeds, citrus peel, and crumbled nori (it’s delicious sprinkled on avocado toast, as well as meat skewers and over ramen). The togarashi gives the lean tuna steaks some zing, and makes an excellent crust when seared.
This Staub grill pan has saved me from a sad winter hiatus from grilling – I dedicate these sear marks to my sweet father-in-law, Drew, and his wife Yolaine!
Tuna is excellent with a ribbon of ruby raw flesh in the center – silky and meaty at the same time, with a contrast of warm seared crust and cool center. While technically it is probably safest to cook the fish all the way through, I never have and will continue not to until the food police drag me away. Pick fish from a source you trust, or purchase sushi-grade fish if you are feeling antsy!
To keep things fresh and boldly flavored, this salad relies on a mix of winter citrus – grapefruits are never sweeter and blood oranges never so lovely as in the dark days of winter, but feel free to substitute oranges, mandarins, tangerines or any citrus you have on hand. For the prettiest presentation (and to make sure you don’t have to deal with any pith or membranes), supreme your citrus.
To supreme, slice off both ends of the citrus. Then, following the curve of the fruit, gently slice off the peel, making sure no pith remains. Once peeled, gently slice between the membranes to produce perfect wedges. When the fruit is spent, I always squeeze the remaining membrane to extract all the remaining juice – I used 2 tablespoons of the juice, a splash of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and olive oil to make a light, refreshing vinaigrette to dress the salad.
Then I drink the rest of the juice before anyone asks to share it with me. Cook’s privilege.
Crispy, cool cucumbers and slices of velvety avocado round out the salad, giving it textural contrast, and I like to give the avocado a dusting of fresh-cracked pepper (a habit inspired by my mom!). Jewel-toned tuna and blood oranges top off the lush emerald leaves, alluring in a way salad usually just…isn’t.
Chocolately, indulgent February is peeking just around the corner, so add this lean, filling and vibrant salad to your arsenal before it’s too late…
- 2 small tuna steaks, or 1 large one sliced into two portions (8-10 ozs total)
- 1-2 Tbsp shichimi togarashi spice*
- Canola oil
- 2-4 cups "power greens," baby kale, spinach or mixed greens
- 1 cup winter citrus supremes, juice reserved**
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 4 inch segment of English cucumber, sliced
- 2 Tbsp reserved citrus juice
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- Small squeeze of honey
- Splash of rice wine vinegar (optional)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper
- upreme your citrus. Divide greens, avocado, cucumber slicess and supremes between two plates.
- In a mason jar, add all ingredients for vinaigrette. Screw on top tightly, then shake vigorously - 1 min or so - until combined and homogeneous. If the vinaigrette begins to separate, just shake again. f you don't have a mason jar, add all ingredients (except olive oil) in a bowl, then drizzle olive oil in, whisking constantly. Season with a dash of salt and pepper.
- Wait to dress the salad until tuna is finished.
- Preheat grill pan or heavy skillet on medium high heat. While preheating, evenly sprinkle both sides of tuna steaks with togarashi and salt. Drizzle a bit of oil on each side, rubbing to coat evenly.
- When pan is hot, sear one side until a crust forms and the fish is 1/3 opaque on the bottom half, approximately 2-3 mins. Flip and repeat on other side, until that side is 1/3 opaque, leaving the middle third ruby red and rare.
- Remove fish from pan. Lightly dress and toss each salad with 1 Tbsp vinaigrette, then top with tuna steaks.
- *If you can't find togarashi, a thin sprinkling of chipotle or ancho chile powder will work, or even just an even sprinkling of sesame seeds (if you don't like spice)
- **I like to supreme one grapefruit and one blood orange, but any citrus will be fine. When I use two different fruits, I save any leftover supremes for a fruit salad snack or to top yogurt the next day!
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