Saturday, February 21, 2009

Black Pepper and Coriander-Crusted Tuna with Orange and Fennel-Roasted Potato Salad

Saturday, February 21, 2009

From the day that I purchased Express Meals, I have longed to cook this dish. Of course, I bought the book the day it was released, as usual when it comes to Rachael Ray titles, and spent hours thumbing through it eagerly, dog-earing the pages with appetizing-sounding recipes, which inevitably turns out to be most of the book. Express Meals is certainly a satisfying offering from Rachael-I have made many a recipe from it, but somehow, I always felt that I was too busy, or too cash-strapped, or simply too tired to try something new, and I avoided Black Pepper and Coriander-Crusted Tuna, despite how wonderful it sounded. Well, over two years have passed since the day I timidly requested that my father-in-law make a stop at the Borders on University Avenue in Palo Alto so that I could continue my relentless fan streak of buying RR cookbooks as soon as humanly possible, and I can finally say that I gave in and treated my sweet husband and myself to this most delicious recipe.

It did NOT disappoint. The salad was heavenly and light, a mixture of wonderful textures with the crisp white fennel and the roasted potatoes, roasted with a nice crunch on the outside, but with soft, warm centers. Tossed with the ever-dependably pretty red onions, the bright green confetti of chopped basil and parsley, and feathery bits of orange zest (from my own oranges!) and dressed with a simple orange juice and olive oil dressing, we enjoyed it for three days, until every last bit was gone. It's worth making over and over on its own, and it was tasty both hot and cold.

The delicate "crust" for the tuna was a snap to prepare, just a bit of flour, pepper, and ground coriander. I have mentioned, more than once, how much I LOVE and ADORE any sort of crusted, coated, or dredged fish. This tuna was no exception, and it felt lighter and healthier, because I only used a bit of oil. I'm not a master of fish-cookery, however, and I think I might have over-cooked it a bit. Good quality tuna can practically be eaten raw, and the best way to prepare it for a dish like this is something akin to medium-rare. It still tasted quite good, however, especially next to the salad.

Despite the expense incurred when purchasing tuna steaks, I highly recommend this dish, and I can now add it to my list of "Great Dishes for Dinner Parties." Actually, I just conceived of the idea for such a list, so this recipe will be the first entry. It looks absolutely lovely on the plate (don't judge by my pictures!) and tastes marvelous. When I made it for my SH, I actually purchased only one large tuna steak and had the fish man cut it into two nice pieces-it was a perfect amount for one special dinner.

Black Pepper and Coriander-Crusted Tuna with Orange and Fennel-Roasted Potato Salad
from Express Meals, by Rachael Ray

2 pounds red or white boiling potatoes, washed
8 tablespoons EVOO
1 tablespoon grill seasoning such as McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning, a palmful (you could easily just use salt, pepper, and a few minced garlic cloves, if you prefer)
1 fennel bulb, fronds trimmed and chopped, the bulb quartered, core removed and discarded, quarters thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped, about 1/2 cup
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, a generous handful, chopped
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (eyeball it)
salt and black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground coriander, a palmful
1 tablespoon coarse black pepper, a palmful
4 1 1/2 inch-thick tuna steaks

1. Preheat the oven to 450.
2. Cut the potatoes into wedges and drop them onto a cookie sheet. Coat the potatoes in 3 tablespoons of the EVOO. Season the spuds with the grill seasoning. Roast the potatoes, turning them once, for 25 minutes, until tender and brown at the edges and a bit crusty.
3. In a large salad bowl, combine the fennel fronds, thinly sliced fennel, red onion, basil, and parsley. In a small bowl, combine the orange zest and juice with the Dijon mustard and a little salt and pepper. In a slow steady stream, whisk in 3 tablespoons of the EVOO. Pour the dressing over the fennel salad, toss to coat, and reserve.
4. When the potatoes have about 10 more minutes to roast, start the tuna. In a shallow dish, combine the flour, coriander, and coarsely ground black pepper and a little salt. Pat the tuna steaks dry and then coat them in the flour mixture, pressing it in lightly. Preheat a large nonstick skillet over high heat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO, twice around the pan. When the pan is very hot, add the steaks. Sear and brown the tuna steaks for 2 minutes, then turn, and immediately reduce the heat to medium. Loosely tent the pan with aluminum foil and cook the steaks 5 minutes for rare, 7 minutes for medium. The steaks should be firm but have a little give, and some pink should remain at the center.
5. Remove the roasted potatoes from the oven and add them to the dressed fennel salad, tossing to combine. Taste them for seasoning and add a little salt and pepper if you want. Serve the tuna steaks alongside the orange and fennel-roasted potato salad.

1 comment:

Donna-FFW said...

This sounds fantastic. I have been eyeballing this one myself and am happy to hear your reviews. Must definitely try it now.