Coriander-Crusted Albacore Tuna with Spicy Buckwheat Noodle Salad
Serves 6 as an appetizer; 4 as a main course
Although we usually think of albacore as one variety of tuna in a can (as in the photo above), it’s also one of the Northwest’s great summertime fresh finfish catches–inexpensive, in good supply, and sustainable. With bold flavors from the albacore, buckwheat noodles, and grated fresh veggies, this recipe makes a lovely appetizer or luncheon dish. It comes from Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and demonstrates the merging of Asian ingredients with Western cuisine that is such a calling card of Pacific Northwest Cuisine. The perfect wine pairing
Spicy Buckwheat Noodle Salad
1/3 cup grated carrot
1/3 cup grated celery 1/3 cup grated turnip or daikon radish
1/4 cup minced red onion 1/4 cup homemade or store-bought mayonnaise (Best Foods or Hellmann’s brand recommended)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced green onions (white and light white parts only)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced jalapeño pepper, seeds and membranes removed
4 ounces cooked Japanese soba noodles (see Cook’s Hint, below)
Coriander-Crusted Albacore Tuna
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
12 to 14 ounces albacore tuna loin, chilled
1/4 cup safflower oil
Edible flowers, such as calendulas, nasturtiums, or begonia petals, for garnish (optional)
1. At least an hour before you plan to serve, prepare the Spicy Buckwheat Noodle Salad. Place the carrot, celery, turnip, onion, mayonnaise, sour cream, ginger, garlic, green onions, soy sauce, and jalapeño in a medium bowl and mix well.
2. Add the noodles and gently mix until well coated with the sauce and the vegetables are distributed throughout. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
3. To prepare the tuna, place the coriander, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and mix well. Slice the chilled tuna in half lengthwise to form two cylinders of tuna.
4. Rub the spice mixture onto the round portion (not the ends) of the tuna pieces, being sure to spread it evenly on all sides.
5. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil just begins to smoke, carefully add the tuna pieces and sear for 2 minutes on each side. The tuna should be opaque on the outside, but still raw on the inside; lower the heat if the tuna starts to brown too quickly.
6. Transfer the tuna to a plate, cover, and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 1 day.
7. When ready to serve, decoratively mound some of the noodle salad on each of 4 or 6 serving plates. Cut the chilled tuna into 1/2-inch-thick slices and arrange on top of the noodles. If desired, garnish with edible flowers.
Cook’s Hint: Japanese soba noodles are made from buckwheat and wheat flour, and are dark, brownish-gray in color. They are available in Asian markets and some grocery stores. To cook them, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until al dente, stirring occasionally. Rinse them in cool water and drain well before using. If not using immediately, spray with nonstick olive-oil spray and toss gently, or toss with a teaspoon or two of canola oil to keep the noodles from sticking together. If soba noodles are unavailable, the seared tuna also works well when served on a bed of steamed rice, couscous, or salad greens. Or try cutting leftover tuna into small cubes and using as a soup garnish or mixing it with pickled beets, walnuts, and feta cheese for a main-dish salad.
Recipe reprinted from Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia (Wiley, $34.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.