Stretching my cooking mojo away from favorites like meat lasagna and a killer meatloaf toward healthier fare such as seafood hasn't been without major kitchen mishaps or giant grocery bills.
The latter is from when only expensive fatty salmon could be counted on to survive what my husband lovingly jokes are my "flame-control issues."
Maybe if you are born the daughter of a Sardinian fishmonger all this is intuitive, but this girl from the shores of Lake Ontario grew up thinking fish is best battered and fried.
So in an effort to reduce our red meat consumption (and not send the kids off to college having seen only fish in frozen stick form) I started trying as many different recipes as I could.
I worked with all kinds of salmon. Grilled shrimp for tacos and simmered it in Thai curry and coconut milk. Made fresh baked cod for the kids (still working on the kids!) and learned how great Asian flavors take to tuna.
I've even learned how not to overcook — most of the time.
Out of those kitchen experiments, one piece of seafood has become a standard in our house, especially now that summer is upon us — the tuna steak.
I make it affordable by buying it frozen from our local warehouse store, same as salmon. It's obviously more expensive than the ground chuck on sale that day, but it's not going to ruin your budget. Better still, each piece is individually vacuum-sealed so you don't have to worry about waste. You simply defrost what you need.
Quality-wise, it's often better than stuff I've gotten "fresh" from the supermarket (usually previously frozen anyway) without the pressure of having to cook it that day or else.
I'm not inventing any culinary journey to remember here, or prepping something for a Top Chef tryout, but if you want a tuna recipe that is very good and ridiculously easy, read on.
Soon, the canned version of this stuff will start growing dust in your pantry. (Unless we are talking about the tuna sandwich my mother made when I was a kid with mayo, chopped tart apple and celery chunks on white toast — that will never fall by the wayside!)
The trick is to figure out exactly how you like your tuna cooked — chefs will tell you almost raw, but I like it a little more done while still preserving a nice pink interior.
Feel free to experiment with marinades, that's the fun part. Pick and choose according to your tastes — ginger, soy, lime juice, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, other herbs, all work great in various combinations.
Cooking methods are also very forgiving. Tuna steaks are great on the grill or in a hot pan on the stove top. They only need to cook for a few short minutes on either side, depending on thickness.
Katie's Superfast Two-Ingredient Tuna Steaks
Defrosted ahi tuna steaks
Any good Asian dressing or marinade that has some combo of sesame, soy and ginger in it. I found a low-fat version that is really good. (see picture)
Pepper (salt if you'd like but consider how much will come from the marinade and dressing.)
A well-greased grill or hot pan. Cook just a few minutes on each side, according to your taste for doneness and the tuna's thickness.
I serve this with greens and sliced cherry tomatoes dressed with fresh lemon juice and olive oil.