Monday, July 11, 2011

Black Pepper and Ancho Crusted Tuna with Lime Spiked Ponzu

Seared Tuna can be like a gateway food into the world of sushi.  Its not quite raw but it's just barely cooked so you can get over any fears or misconceptions about raw tuna or sushi.  I know people that eat their steaks rare but can not imagine eating a raw piece of tuna. I actually lean the other direction. I can eat the tuna raw but I prefer my steak cooked more medium.  The only way to really mess up this dish is to over cook the tuna.

You don't need sushi grade tuna for this dish but it does make a difference. You want a nice size piece of tuna that is dark red in color with little or no "fat" showing. This will ensure that each bite is as good as the last one.  I would also take the time to crack your own peppercorns.  Freshly cracked pepper is extremely fragrant and gives this dish some good spice/heat. I use a chicken tenderizer and a cutting board to do mine but a mortar and pestle work well also. Or the back of a heavy pan and a cutting board.  You want them cracked and course but not ground up too fine.

Ponzu is a vinegared soy sauce.  I prefer it to regular soy for sushi because of that vinegar flavor.  Adding in the lime just pushes it over the top for goodness and gives it a nice punch.

Here's how I do this one.


1 lb Sushi Grade Tuna
2 Tablespoons Freshly (Course) Cracked Black Peppercorns
2 Teaspoons Ancho Chile Powder (or regular chile powder if you don' t have ancho)
2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar or Regular Granulated Sugar.
1/2 cup Ponzu Sauce
1 Green Onion/Scallion sliced very thin on a bias.
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice


Put a cast iron griddle or pan over high heat, brush with vegetable or canola oil and let it get smoking hot. 

Pat dry the tuna with a paper towel to take away any moisture so the pepper rub will stick.

Mix together the pepper, salt, ancho powder and sugar.  spread it out on some parchment paper or a plastic cutting board.  Coat the tuna with the mixture on all sides, pressing it into the fish.

Once the cast iron is smoking, gently lay the tuna over the hottest part.  It may not sizzle like you think it would because of the thick pepper coating. 

Cook until you get about 1/8" to 1/4" of white coloring along the bottom of the fish.  Flip and repeat the process. If your tuna is an inch thick or more be sure to sear the sides as well.  What you are looking for is a small white ring around a dark red center.

In a small dipping bowl add the ponzu and lime juice.  Top it with a pinch of the scallion.

Slice the tuna on an angle using a very sharp knife. You might have some flaking around the edges as you try to cut through the pepper crust but try to keep it as clean as possible.

Serve with the ponzu sauce on the side.

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