Does this look good or what??? It really was and is something we will definitely do again.
This is another one of those what are we having for dinner moments. You see, being brutally hot, I have tried to keep things light, fresh and bright. I had gone to the market Thursday to buy some crab for a tomato steak topped with crab salad (more on that later) when I saw this beautifully fresh ahi tuna. I couldn’t help myself so I bought some to make for dinner Friday night. I dutifully vacuum sealed it and put it in the fridge under lots of ice to keep it very cold (not frozen) and fresh. It worked, too.
So, Friday afternoon rolled around with Baby Lady asking me what I was going to do with the tuna. I had been pretty occupied on some legal matters I was working on so I hadn’t thought about it. I told her I hadn’t thought about it so she started providing me suggestions. Poke?? Baby Lady loves poke. I told her no because the last several times we purchased tuna we made poke and I wanted something different. Sushi?? No, I explained, I wasn’t in the mood for sushi. Ceviche?? Again, no, that’s not what I want to do. So, we finally make it back full circle to the original question, Well, what ARE you going to do with the tuna?? At that point it became necessary to think about the tuna. What was I going to do with the tuna? After thinking about for a while I decided chimichurri would be a wonderful accompaniment for the tuna. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with chimichurri, it is an Argentinean sauce traditionally served with grilled meats, typically steak. It is an essential condiment in Argentinean cuisine and is found on every table in Argentinean households. It is akin to a French pistou (pesto without the nuts and cheese) but is made with parsley instead of basil. It has a flavorful herbaceous bite that pairs well with the smokiness of grilled foods whether they be beef, pork, chicken, game or even seafood. It also cuts through the richness of fried foods, and can add some zesty flavor to a mild dish. It’s really quite versatile and very tasty.
Traditionally, the essential ingredients of a chimichurri recipe were parsley, olive oil, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Because of its immense popularity everybody began doing their own spin on it to match their own tastes and go with whatever dish they were making. Nowadays, you find chimichurri sauces with the addition of various elements including, but not limited to, vinegar/citrus juice, cilantro (in addition to the parsley or in lieu thereof), red chile flakes, paprika, fresh or dried oregano, fresh hot chiles, coriander, paprika, cumin, thyme, and even bay leaf. It also has a red version with tomatoes and red bell peppers.
Now that I had decided what I was going to do with the tuna, the next question became how to prepare it. I already knew I wanted to sear it because it was very fresh having been flown in from Hawaii the day before. Simply searing the tuna seemed rather drab even with the chimichurri and I wanted some textural element, as well. Given this was an Argentinean-south of the border inspired tuna I thought pepitas would be a great crust for the tuna. For those of you unfamiliar with pepitas, they are pumpkin seeds. They add a nice, nutty, earthiness to a dish and toast up very nicely. This would give me some additional depth of flavor and a nice textural crunch to the tuna. Acid from the chimichurri, fats from the tuna and olive oil, herbaceous spiciness from the chimichurri, meatiness from the tuna and the textural crunch from the pepitas. Everything would be in perfect balance and it was. This is what we did.
For the Chimichurri
- 1-1/2 cups flat leaf parsley, tightly packed
- 1-1/2 cups cilantro, tightly packed
- 4 Tbsp shallot, minced
- 1 red serrano chile, small dice
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red jalapeño, small dice
- 1/3 cup fresh oregano
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
For the Tuna
- 2 tuna steaks
- 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the Chimichurri
You can do the Chimichurri in a food processor if you desire; however, I find manually mincing the ingredients gives you the perfect texture for the chimichurri.
Mince the flat leaf parsley
Add the parsley to a mixing bowl.
Mince the cilantro
Add to mixing bowl with parsley
Mince the fresh oregano
add to the parsley and cilantro
If you prefer, use a food processor and run the parsley, cilantro and oregano in a food processor. Set aside.
Now, mince the garlic and put in a separate mixing bowl
mince the shallot
Add to the mixing bowl with the garlic
Add the red wine vinegar
the minced red peppers
and lime juice
Set aside and allow to macerate for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes combine the minced parsley, cilantro and oregano with the other ingredients
Drizzle olive oil into mixture.
Finish with the crushed red pepper flakes
Viola, Chimichurri Sauce.
Set aside until ready to serve. This is really good stuff. Trust me.
For the Tuna
Add the pumpkin seeds to a molcajete
Pound the pumpkin seeds in the molcajete to crush the seeds for the crust. It’s a great way to alleviate stress from a rough day at the office.
Now, season the tuna steaks with salt
and freshly ground black pepper
Liberally sprinkle with the crushed pumpkin seeds.
Pat down on the fish to adhere the seeds to the fish.
Add oil to a hot cast iron skillet over high heat.
Place the fish into the skillet and cook 90 seconds
Turn and cook another 90 seconds – see how nicely the pumpkin seeds toast in the hot skillet
Remove from skillet and place on a serving plate. Spoon chimichurri sauce over the top
Serve with lime wedges and enjoy!!! This is a really killer meal.