Seared Pepita Crusted Ahi Tuna with Chimichurri Sauce

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

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.

Ingredients:

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

Instruction

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

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Add the parsley to a mixing bowl.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Mince the cilantro

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Add to mixing bowl with parsley

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Mince the fresh oregano

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

add to the parsley and cilantro

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

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

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

mince the shallot

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Add to the mixing bowl with the garlic

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Add the red wine vinegar

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

the minced red peppers

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

salt

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

and lime juice

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Set aside and allow to macerate for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes combine the minced parsley, cilantro and oregano with the other ingredients

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Drizzle olive oil into mixture.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Finish with the crushed red pepper flakes

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Viola, Chimichurri Sauce. :)

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Set aside until ready to serve. This is really good stuff. Trust me. :)

For the Tuna

Add the pumpkin seeds to a molcajete

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

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. :)

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Now, season the tuna steaks with salt

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

and freshly ground black pepper

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Liberally sprinkle with the crushed pumpkin seeds.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Pat down on the fish to adhere the seeds to the fish.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Add oil to a hot cast iron skillet over high heat.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Place the fish into the skillet and cook 90 seconds

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Turn and cook another 90 seconds – see how nicely the pumpkin seeds toast in the hot skillet

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Remove from skillet and place on a serving plate. Spoon chimichurri sauce over the top

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Serve with lime wedges and enjoy!!! This is a really killer meal. :)

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

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17 thoughts on “Seared Pepita Crusted Ahi Tuna with Chimichurri Sauce

  1. What a delightful recipe: even better than the last fish one to which I had no chance to pass a comment! Shall make soonest: what beautiful colours and flavours :) ! Am warmly amused by your usage of ‘Baby Lady’, ’cause have been there myself. My second foodie husband did a lot of restaurant critic stuff in and around Sydemy. One we had met, I suddenly [and, at first unwillingly] became ‘Milady’ [3 Musketeers et al!!]: shall we say a hypercritical ‘b . . .h’!
    Totally untrue, but much to my amusement, every maitre d’ and owner around Sydney suddenly ‘bowed and scraped’ . . .don’t think a certain bod saw that coming . . .

    • Hi, Eha. Thanks for the nice compliment. This was a very enjoyable dish. In fact, this may have been the best balanced seafood dish we have made in a long time. It really all came together and was very lovely. Baby Lady’s simple salad of sliced tomatoes and avocado was a perfect accompaniment, too.
      As for the Baby Lady, my pet name for her is Baby. I call her Baby because she is my Baby. I love her dearly. She is so used to me calling her Baby that when I call her Elia, she asks me if there is something wrong. :D She is the Baby Lady on the blog because she is my Baby and very much a Lady. So Baby Lady she is. :)

      • Methinks I ‘guessed’ that lovely story ahead of time: and a lucky Lady she is!! As far as the ‘private me’ is concerned: hmm – both husbands called me variations along ‘butterfly’ line . . . yet am not ‘flighty’ in the least :D !

  2. Very nice, Richard! The seared tuna looks great and I really like the idea of the pepitas. I think I’d leave all that chopping to the food processor in triple digit temperatures, but I agree with you the texture is better this way. The sauce reminds me of Italian salsa verde, and makes me wonder if Italian immigrants introduced it to Argentina.

    • Thanks for the compliment, Stefan. The pepitas added that nice textural element that you are looking for in a meal and they went beautifully with the herbaceous nature of the chimichurri. I was very pleased at how it tied together so well. As for the hand mincing of the herbs, AC in Texas is an absolute must. So, while it’s triple digits outside, it’s 76 F inside and hand mincing is not a chore at all. It also gives me the opportunity to keep my knife skills intact. ;) As for the origins of chimichurri, it has been traced back to the late 1500s and there is a lot of speculation of how it came about. Given it’s similarity to pesto, it would not surprise me at all if it had an Italian origin. Also, there is a large Italian population living in Argentina.

  3. I would have been very satisfied with just that perfectly seared tuna and chimichurri sauce, Richard. Encrusting it with pepitas was a great idea. This was another great recipe that you’ve shared with us.

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