1.12.2005

Tuna Tataki (Recipe)


Special note from August 4, 2010: First, while the original post follows, I thought it time for a 2010 update, which you can read here. Second, the photo above is one I took. I've noticed some other blogs using it. That's fine. If you do, much obliged if you could credit Kitchen Monkey. Thanks! Now read.

This is one of the best appetizers ever, and also happens to be one of the easiest to make. One of the joys of Sarasota (apart from it being January 12 with a high of 80 degrees) is the bounty of seafood and fishmongers. In fact, I happen to live less than a block away from a restaraunt/seafood-market that sells sushi-grade tuna and yellowtail, my two favorites. The guy behind the counter is very professional, and he won't let you take the fish until he has wrapped it in paper, then enclosed it in a plastic bag filled with ice to keep it superfresh--even when you explain to him that you live across the street.

And yes, to make tataki you really need your tuna to be sushi-grade. I must warn you though: if you are lucky enough to have easy access to it, there is a danger of it becoming habit-forming. The drawback to having such easy access to such great tuna is that I'm not a rich man, and the stuff can run $17 a pound or more, so I have instead had to learn a degree of self control. Sometimes as I pass the market, I shake my fist in the air at the injustice of it all.

I find that for four people, about 2/3 pound is ideal, so you're looking at anywhere from $9 to $12. Worth it if you ask me. Ask the monger to try and cut it off the tail end; if he cuts it off the large end, you're bound to get a steak that is too thin for good tataki. You ideally want a chunk that, if not square, is about 1 1/2 inches high and 2 1/2 inches wide.

Once you've got it home, sprinkle sesame seeds liberally onto all four sides, this gives it a little bit of crunch without changing the flavor significantly. At medium-high, heat 1 parts veggie oil to 1/2 part pure sesame oil in a pan, and with a pair of tongs sear the tuna on four sides. Don't sear it for very long! Just enough so that about an eighth of an inch cooks through on each side. If you like you can sear the two ends as well. Immediately remove from the pan, and slice thinly, no more than a quarter of an inch slices.

Serve as soon as possible. I find it works best with this simple variation of ponzu sauce: mix 2 parts soy sauce with 1 part lemon juice and 1 part orange juice. Garnish with shredded daikon or just eat.

14 comments:

Dr. Jones said...

I wholeheartedly agree, one of the best and easiest apps out there.

Instead of the sesame seeds though I'd use a liberal paste of wasabi on the outside. To each his own!

Ms. Gourmand said...

"I shake my fist in the air at the injustice of it all."
I concur: OH! "the injustice of it all," though I have yet to shake my fist in the air.
The image suits your comical disposition.

Anonymous said...

Hey, its my favourite too. Trouble is it is pretty addictive!!! I have it most weeks !!!

Anonymous said...

Would love to try this and live in Sarasota - Which fish market do you recommend for puchasing fresh sushi-grade tuna?

Cous said...

This stuff is amazing! Spent 4 weeks in kochi, japan, last summer and its a local speciality, its superb!!

Anonymous said...

GREAT RECIPE ........LUCKY ME... I LIVE IN PANAMA WHERE THE FRESH TUNA ,ALL KINDS CAN BE BOUGHT FOR JUST $1.00 @ LB.:):)

Anonymous said...

I guess I am a gambler because I make this all the time and I do not think the tuna is sushi grade. I always pick the reddest piece of fish because it looks so pretty. I press cracked pepper and sesame seeds to the tuna then sear very quickly and slice.

Kitchen Monkey said...

You ARE a gambler - the reddest tuna may be the prettiest, but unless you're spending top dollar ($25 a pound) it's usually the reddest because they use a chemical to TURN it red to make it LOOK fresh. But hey, it's your digestive track.

JackieMay said...

Thanks for the recipe. yum.

Lukaaas said...

I just caught a Bonito, about 2kgs and am going to try your technique.

Iki spiked, gilled and bled within 2 minutes of being caught, and on the table within 3 hours....

I love Sydney!!!

Katerina said...

Great post, I used it as a bit of an inspiration for one I just made.

cahlinny said...

this is a great recipe - ive been cracked out on seared tuna for a while now! At my grocery store, they sell sushi-grade tuna frozen for $8 a pound, and the freezing doesnt seem to affect the taste much. As for your ponzu sauce, it is pretty good, but I added some rice vinegar and some scallions. I also like flax seed mixed with black sesame seed for the outside 'crunch'.

Greenmile said...

Wonderful...I am going to try this recipe tonight! I unfortunately first tried tuna tataki at Nobu in Nassau. Damn my luck!!!

Anonymous said...

I too live in Panama...I pick up tataki size vacuum packed frozen pieces for $5.
Its Convenient, allows me to have it whenever I have a craving and I can't really see a difference with the fresh product. Found this looking for different ways to make it...I've tried various recipes but always either use a dry pan or the grill. Its great pressed with cracked pepper.
Try a fine drizzle of sesame oil on the slices and a very light dusting of five spice powder.
Awesome, addictive stuff...