The culinary confluence of the first days of Spring in my garden, the mind-boggling wine sale at Grocery Outlet, and irresistible fillets of fresh ahi tuna from my favorite fishmonger – all meld together into a beautiful synergistic seasonal main course.
Pinot Noir is eminently food friendly due to the elegant balance of fruit, acidity, and light tannins. Fruitier versions make a great match with salmon and tuna. Black cherry, pomegranate, and cranberry flavors with hints of spice, smoke, and toasty oak in Paraiso Pinot Noir pair beautifully with fresh-caught yellowfin tuna.
The marriage is a mutually advantageous conjunction revealing deeper layers of flavor for both the dish and the wine. Earthy lentils and peppery arugula reflect those same flavors in the wine. Pomegranate arils mirror those fruit flavors, adding a touch of fruitiness without being too sweet. In the sauce – soy brings salty and umami flavors while butter adds nutty flavor and unctuous mouth-feel. The well-loved fragrance of lavender adds more than a just a scent but also an unexpected burst of flavor that heightens the wine profile. Thyme and black pepper elevate the underlying nuances of this Pinot Noir. The dish is a relaxed, natural presentation of a pristine fillet of fish paired with a delightful bottle of wine, all in the celebration of Springtime.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Chef Sam Choy explains how the islanders would watch the old Hawaiian “landkeepers” take care of the environment, and how they would embrace the magic of kapu.
Kapu represents a period of time when there is no fishing, no taking from the earth. “It is when we leave the earth time to replenish itself,” Choy said. “If we keep depleting, there will be nothing left for our great great grandkids. We need to protect. We need to care. We want them to have what we are enjoying.”
Choy’s philosophy has always been like that – protecting, caring. He lives that way, he says. Keeping the ocean pristine and vibrant, allowing the nature of the ocean to be plentiful. “Living in Hawaii, you have to believe in that, we are surrounded by water, after all.”
This post is the third in a series promoting sustainable seafood.
Togarashi Furikake Crusted Ahi Over Ponzu Roasted Garlic Tahini Sauce
Garnished with Serrano, Kaffir Lime Shards, Wasabi, Borage
Choosing the right fish for your dish can have a positive impact on the marine environment and the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium would like to help educate local consumers on this important topic. Today, FRIENDS of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium hosted its first Sustainable Seafood Expo, a fun and delicious way to sample new seafood dishes, wines and craft beers while learning how to make the best selections when dining out or cooking at home.
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is one of 200 partners in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, which produces pocket guides and a smart phone app recommending which seafood items are “best choices,” “good alternatives” or “avoid.”
Seafood Watch recommendations consider the fishery, habitat, species, management, and a host of factors that affect each species. The goal is to help sustain wild, diverse and healthy ocean ecosystems that will exist long into the future. Consumers are encouraged to purchase seafood that is fished or farmed in ways that don’t harm the environment. (from Sustainable Seafood Expo press release)
My “contribution” to the event is a recipe for sustainable Yellowfin (Ahi) Tuna, Pole Caught right here off our Pacific Coast.
Yellowfin tuna is found throughout most of the world’s oceans. Many types of gear are used to catch tuna. Not all yellowfin fisheries use ocean-friendly methods and some populations are overfished. Look for troll- or pole-caught yellowfin as the most sustainable option. (from SeafoodWatch here)
Avocado, crushed pineapple, finely chopped serrano chiles, a squeeze of key lime juice and a pinch of Kosher salt are mashed together with a fork. Avocado and pineapple make an interesting flavor combination, perfect complement to the fish.
Whisk together equal parts mirin, sesame oil, and tamari, plus half as much key lime juice. Divide in half, one part for serving the other part for seasoning the tuna.
The sashimi grade tuna is coated with the sauce just prior to cooking. It is not left to marinate for more than a few minutes per side, as with fish this fresh, I did not want to mask the delicate complex flavors of the fish.
I used that great SCANPAN ceramic titanium non-stick fry pan from Denmark here! Heat the dry pan until very hot and add the tuna. Sear over high heat about 60 seconds per side. Serve the yellowfin tuna over the sauce with a scoop of avocado pineapple mash, steamed jasmine rice on the side. We thoroughly enjoyed this meal with a White Bordeaux, although a lighter style Burgundy/Pinot Noir would have been a good choice as well. For a terrific recipe using a similar sauce with king salmon, please visit here.
FRESH FISH ALERT !!!
Imagine my excitement when I walked into my neighborhood butcher shop to see Darko filleting his Yellowfin Tuna! Intentions to get anything other than yellowfin tuna went out the window! I was so glad to have my camera on hand too.
South Shores Meat Shop
Western Avenue at 25th Street
San Pedro, California
Tuna Facts: There are two species of tuna known as ahi, yellowfin and bigeye. Tunas are the fastest fish in the world; in fact, bursts of speed exceeding 20-30 mph are not unusual. They have streamlined bodies specifically adapted for efficient swimming, large white muscle masses useful for swimming long distances, and red muscle masses for short bursts of speed when chasing prey or escaping predators. For more interesting information on yellowfin tuna, nutrition, and sustainability status you can visit FishWatch.