Posts Tagged ‘tuna’

Start with Perfection

May 24, 2012

I love a good soup. The flavors blend together so you can’t tell what’s in it yet each elememt contributes something that would be lost without that specific ingredient. A perfect harmony of the fewest possible ingredients that creates intrigue and comfort in one spoonful.

Perhaps I have astronomical aspirations or am embellishing the simplicity of soup. The reason, at least, is because I cannot make a simple clear stock. I use my leftover chicken bones fanatically – to the point of buying and roasting a whle chicken just so I can make some stock. I pile on the veggie scraps, taking care to leave out any pungent ones like broccoli or cabbage. I’ve made some good lentil soups and pumpkin is a personal favorite. And yet a simple egg drop soup is beyond me.

I found the ideal I’ve been striving for in giant bowls of noodles at Japanese restaurants so I raided the library for all non-sushi Japanese cookbooks. I read through Harumi’s Japanese Cooking first for a quick and easy introduction to Japanese dishes, then consumed myself so thoroughly in The Washoku Kitchen by Elizabeth Andoh that I wound up buying a copy. Both books confirmed the secret to a delicate, clear broth is seaweed! I don’t understand the science of it but apparently seaweed is gelatinous and imparts this quality to the broth when cooked carefully, as well as a very light flavor which can be enhanced by dried tuna flakes or mushrooms.

Stock Ingredients

Dried tuna flakes (bonito) and seaweed (kombu) are all that’s needed for a perfect stock.

The result? I’ve made soup every week for the last two months!

Fish Stock

inspired by Harumi’s Japanese Cooking and Washoku by Elizabeth Andoh


  • 4½c water
  • 15-20" piece of seaweed
  • ¼c dried tuna flakes
  1. Soak the seaweed in the cold water for 15min.
  2. Bring the water just to a boil over medium heat.
  3. As soon as the water is boiling, add the tuna flakes and drop the heat to low.
  4. Turn the heat off and remove the seaweed and tuna flakes after a few minutes (the tuna will start to sink).


I am not an expert in Japanese cooking or ingredients. I am only just learning. However, there is a wide variety of seaweed available and seaweed itself, from what I’ve read, is a misnomer. It should be considered a leafy green that grows in water. Kombu is recommended for making stock. I don’t know why. Perhaps it has the best gelatinous properties. It is important not to rinse it before use as the salt-like granules on the seaweed contribute to the stock’s character.

Tuna flakes (bonito) are available in many Asian markets and have a very strong smell but do not overpower the stock as they are used for just a few minutes. I encourage you to try making the stock as is but for vegetarians and those who do not like fish or strong fish smells while cooking, substitute a few dried shitake mushrooms.


A Cheap Trip to France in a Bottle of Vinegar

January 24, 2010

Reims Champagne Vinegar

Reims Champagne Vinegar

It’s sale time and I always take advantage of this time of year at Williams-Sonoma, particularly to buy vinegar. This time around I am experimenting with some champagne vinegar. I have found two recipes which call for it in a cookbook called “Off Duty” (recipe adventures from that book are forthcoming!).

Vinegar always smells strong so I wasn’t too sure how to use it just by the smell. On an instinct of combining French Provence-style tastes, I added some to a tuna salad in the spirit of a lighter salad Nicoise. The champagne vinegar created a pleasant if standard taste but fit the bill so I’m happy. I’m open to suggestions for how to feature it in a dish!

Provence Tuna Salad

created on the fly by Sarah Johnson

1/4 c mayonnaise
1.5 T dijon mustard
1 T champagne vinegar
1 t sugar
dash of black pepper
1 t tarragon
2 T yellow raisins
1 can of tuna

  1. Mix mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, and pepper.
  2. Add tarragon, raisins, and tuna.

There are endless variations on this recipe. I found this particularly pleasant and refreshing with some salad greens and a fresh tomato. It would make a good sandwich on some quality bread.

I used chunk light tuna in water. If I were being truly decadent I would use some fancy Spanish canned tuna. Although that type of tuna is so delicious on its own it might be considered sacrilege to mix it with mayonnaise.

My mother used to put raisins in tuna salad whenever she made it so I continue to do the same. I like using yellow raisins because they are juicy and light in flavor, but currants would be a good option for this salad as well. In my mind the yellow raisins matched the yellow of the vinegar as well as the mustard, but currants would make a good contrast. The sweetness of currants would also play well off the slight sweetness of the vinegar.

Tuna Steaks

July 30, 2009

My favorite fish to make is tuna. It’s delicious, it’s beautiful, and it’s a challenge I have not yet met. I want to make a perfectly seared tuna steak at home some time. Until I do, I will not rest. My most recent attempt was very good and cooked just enough to be rare-ish, but not perfect.

asian style tuna steaks grilled to medium doneness

asian style tuna steaks grilled to medium doneness

Seared Tuna Steaks with Wasabi-Green Onion Mayonnaise

from Bon Appetit (2004), courtesy of Epicurious

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced green onions (white and green parts)
1 teaspoon (or more) wasabi paste
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
4 8-ounce tuna steaks (preferably ahi; each about 1 inch thick)

  1. Mix mayonnaise, wasabi, and onions and chill covered.
  2. Whisk teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar and marinate the tuna at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
  3. Drain tuna and place on a grill brushed with vegetable oil. 4 minutes per side will cook the tuna to a medium doneness.
  4. Serve with the wasabi mayonnaise.

In my excitement over the tuna steaks I made some errors in preparing this recipe which I now call my ‘variations’.

First, I misread teaspoon for tablespoon and so added a tablespoon of wasabi paste. Lucky for me I love wasabi! The sting of it made for an exciting meal.

Second, I completely left out the soy sauce in the mayonnaise. I was turned off by the mayonnaise taste so the soy sauce probably would have been a useful addition.

My only intentional variation was the use of red scallions instead of green onions since I had them from the foodshare this week. I imagine some ginger in the marinade would also add good flavor. For some flourish, sesame seeds on the outside of the tuna would be attractive and add a small crunch to the finished product.