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Growing up half-Japanese you eat a decent bit of tuna, though not as much as people would expect, and usually not as sushi! This recipe is adapted for New York summers, taking advantage of the peak season currently for fresh tuna. The Yagenbori blend works perfectly, with the nigella seeds and sesame adding great flavor and crunch. I usually make crostini to serve with this, but I've found olive-oil potato chips to be a perfect substitute, with the benefit of being gluten-free.
3 Tbsp neutral oil
1 Japanese cucumber, or two Persian ones, scrubbed and chilled
1 pound chilled tuna steak, sushi grade, bloodline removed (unless you enjoy that flavor)
2 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, plus lemon for finishing
Finely mince the scallion and combine with the oil, allow to sit for about an hour to infuse.
Slice 3/4 of the cucumber(s) into paper-thin rounds, and puree the rest.
Mix the mirin and cucumber puree.
On 4 chilled plates or 1 large chilled platter add the puree, then a thick layer of cucumber slices.
Reserve a couple teaspoons of infused oil from the minced scallion.
Using a sharp knife cut the tuna into 1/4" dice.
Gently mix the tuna with the scallion and oil mixture, the lemon juice, and the Yagenbori. Taste and adjust seasoning, spice, and acidity to your liking.
Plate the tartare by using a biscuit cutter or ring mold (or skip this if you want it just won't look as neat).
Garnish with fresh lemon, a sprinkle of Yagenbori, and some of the reserved scallion oil.
Great on its own, with crostini, or with olive oil kettle chips.
• I love including a layer of ripe avocado when I find nice ones. Season 1/4" cubes with lemon and salt and plate them over the cucumber but below the tuna.
• This dish is great with tuna belly when you can find it. I usually add a bit of candied ginger and finely chopped lemon to balance the richness. I prefer a sprinkling of crispy rice or shrimp chips for crunch.
• If you'd like to add more seasoning try a small splash of fino sherry.
Food images and recipe © Christian Leue.
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