This simple and super fresh first course, Tuna Tataki with Heirloom Tomato Crudo from chef Richard Blais’s new cookbook, So Good: 100 Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours, demands top-tier ingredients, particularly sushi-grade tuna and pristine tomatoes. If you find saku blocks (a staple in sushi chef’s kitchens: flash-frozen yellowtail tuna blocks all cut to the same exact size), get those. Otherwise, you can ask your fishmonger to cut any sushi-grade tuna into bricks of about 12 ounces each. Although the recipe calls for grape or cherry tomatoes, buy whichever tomatoes look best; you can always cut them down to size if they’re larger heirloom varieties.
The sweet, juicy tomatoes and seared tuna are accented with light, bright Asian flavors, including shoyu (or white soy sauce, milder and thinner than the usual soy sauce), sesame seeds, sesame oil, garlic, and yuzu juice. Togarashi, a Japanese spice powder, is optional, but a great addition if you can find it —or you can always make your own! The shiso leaves are another delicious ingredient that might be hard to find; their flavor is unique, and while neither basil nor cilantro will replicate it, they’re both fine substitutes for the herb in this dish.
- Yield: 4 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 25 min
- Active: 25 min
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon togarashi (optional)
- kosher salt
- 4 saku yellowtail tuna blocks, thawed if necessary
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (choose the ripest and most appealing tomatoes you can find)
- 2 tablespoons yuzu juice
- 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
- 1-2 teaspoons shoyu (also called white soy sauce)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh green shiso, basil, or cilantro, torn or coarsely chopped, for garnish
- In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, sesame seeds, onion powder, togarashi (if using), and about 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Sprinkle this seasoning mix on both sides of the tuna, gently pressing the mix into the tuna.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Sear the tuna blocks just until they brown slightly, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and slice the seared tuna into slices 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
- Slice the tomatoes into pieces of similar size and put in a mixing bowl. Season aggressively with salt and then sprinkle with the yuzu juice, dark sesame oil, and shoyu. Season with pepper and toss gently. Add the shiso, basil, or cilantro and toss again.
- Arrange the tuna slices on 4 plates and spoon the tomatoes next to them. Serve immediately.