Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Grilled Tuna with Tomato Caper Sauce, Leek Salad, and Dolmas

Since the point of this blog is for me to document my learning experiences, I promised myself that I would post the dishes that weren't completely successful as well as the ones that were fabulous.  :)  The tuna tasted great, so did the sauce.  It just looked...unattractive.  The sauce didn't have any extra water added, but the tomatoes released their juices and the end result was a watery sauce.  The leeks were supposed to just be on the plate next to the tuna.  Amusingly, I saw a picture of this dish on a different blog later, and the author smartly photographed it from the side instead of from the top.  The sauce was intended to be a fancy version of the traditional Middle Eastern lemon and oil sauce.  There was a lot of oil in it, and I don't know if adding corn starch (my cheat to thicken sauce if I don't have a ton of time to reduce it) would have been appropriate.  The leek salad was quite good.  It's from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.  The recipe noted that leeks are very popular in Egypt, something I didn't know.  It was very easy to make and required very little active time. The dolmas are from Wegmans.  ;)

The original recipe for the tuna contained the basic sauce and two variations.  I used one of them, which was to add 2 garlic cloves and 1/2 tsp harissa.  I used a full tsp of harissa because I like it a lot.  I made a full recipe of sauce (serves 4) because I tend to see meat as a vehicle for delivering sauce.  So, if you make this and aren't a sauce fanatic like me, you might want to halve it.  My theory for why the sauce is so watery is that I should have seeded the tomatoes.  I'll try that next time. The tuna was grilled on a real grill, not a grill pan.   The New Book of Middle Eastern Food notes that tuna is typically overcooked in Middle Eastern cuisine.  I didn't opt for authenticity when I made this, the recipe didn't recommend it and I like my tuna rare. 

Grilled Tuna with Tomato Caper Sauce
Slightly adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Cooking
Serves 2
2 tuna filets, or one large one cut in half (which is what we did).
2 tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp capers, soaked to remove brine or vinegar (optional, but I let them soak while I chopped the tomatoes)
Juice of 1 lemon
4 Tbsp olive oil (the original recipe called for 8 Tbsp, minus the amount it would take to film a grill pan.  I couldn't bear to put that much oil in a sauce, so I only used 4 Tbsp)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp harissa, or more to taste (I used 1 tsp)

1) Heat the grill.  When grill is appropriately hot, grill the tuna for 1-2 minutes each side, depending on thickness.  (The tuna in the picture was grilled for 2 minutes each side and was properly seared on the outside and very rare in the center). 
2) Mix the sauce ingredients in a pot and heat until just below the boiling point.
3) Serve sauce on top of tuna filets. 

My husband and I both enjoy leeks, so this salad looked particularly interesting.  Plus, it doesn't take long to make in terms of active time.  The original recipe served 4, and called for the juice of 1/2 lemon.  Juicing 1/4 of a lemon for a 2 person recipe seemed a little silly, and everything is better with more lemon juice!  So I used the full 1/2. 
Leek Salad
From The New Book of Middle Eastern Cooking
Serves 2

1/2 lb leeks (2 of Wegmans gigantor monster leeks was way more than 1/2 lb.  Weigh your leeks!)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1.5 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed (I just used my garlic squasher for this)
1/2 tsp dried mint
1/4 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

1) Prepare the leeks.  Cut off the green ends and the root ends.  Cut in half lengthwise and remove the outer layer.  Rinse very well under cold water to get all the dirt and grit out.  Fanning the leaves out helps.  Then slice the leeks into 1 to 2 inch slices.  
2) Boil the leeks in lightly salted water for 15-20 minutes (I boiled them for 15), until they're soft. Drain them and press out as much excess water as you can.
3) While the leeks are boiling, mix together the remaining ingredients in a bowl that is large enough to hold the boiled leeks.
4) Place the leeks in the bowl with the dressing and toss well.
5) Serve cold.


MorganFamily said...

We'll have to try that one as we grill tuna at least once a month. Though we usually opt for the very simple wasabi cream sauce in interest of time... but that sounds yummy!

Scienter said...

Let me know how it turns out, it's really pretty quick since there is minimal chopping and the sauce doesn't take long to heat. If you can't get harissa (I had to go to a Middle Eastern grocery store), the sauce would still be good.

Taste of Beirut said...

I like this and I never make tuna so this is motivating me to try! the leeks with it is a great idea also.

Michelle said...

Oh my god, that looks delicious. Tummy rumbling! I will lick the runny sauce from the plate! :D

Heguiberto said...

This looks quite tasty. I know what you mean about trouble taking pictures of watery foods. This happened to me when I wanted to post a recipe for Mexican mole with shrimp. I put the sauce over top and it had the dreadful lumpy look of something connected to food... the following day. My solution, place the sauce on the dish first then top it with the shrimp. That looked right out of a magazine. I'd put the link here but my Google search tool is messed up right now.

Nevertheless, I am certain that this dish is very good.

Scienter said...

Thank you, Heguiberto!


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