October is a gorgeous month in Maryland — prime time to do a little grilling and dine alfresco. At Bushmill Tavern in Abingdon, chef Mark Littleton regularly grills burgers and steaks, but occasionally he also likes to add fish to the mix.
Littleton, who gained an enthusiastic following during his years cooking in Baltimore restaurants, including Annabel Lee Tavern and Adam’s Eve Gastropub, says autumn is the perfect time to whip up crunchy, flavorful tacos made with spicy, jerk-seasoned ahi tuna steaks and tangy-sweet grilled pineapple salsa. The combination is hearty, bright and fun — perfect for the sunny days of fall.
Ahi Tuna Tacos with Grilled Pineapple Salsa and Wasabi Slaw
Yield: 6 servings (18 tacos)
For the salsa:
1 ripe medium pineapple
1 red bell pepper
1 Vidalia onion
1 bunch cilantro leaves
2 limes, juiced
½ cup sugar
Coarse kosher salt to taste
(about 1 tablespoon)
1 Peel the outer skin from the pineapple, removing the top and bottom sections. Cut the pineapple in strips, away from the core.
2 Heat a grill to medium. Place the strips of pineapple on the grill and cook until golden brown, about three to five minutes per side. Cut grilled pineapple into small cubes.
3 Finely dice Vidalia onion and bell pepper.
4 Chop cilantro leaves.
5 Combine pineapple, pepper, onion and cilantro in a mixing bowl.
6 Add the lime juice, sugar and salt, and mix to combine. Taste, and add more salt if necessary.
For the wasabi slaw:
1 medium head white cabbage
3 tablespoons wasabi powder
1 tablespoon sesame oil
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups mayonnaise
1 Core and quarter cabbage. Working from the front of the cabbage to the center, slice very thinly.
2 Combine the wasabi powder, sesame oil, sugar and mayonnaise in a large mixing bowl, and stir until blended.
3 Add the sliced cabbage and toss to coat.
For the tuna:
6 six-ounce ahi tuna steaks
About 1 ¼ cups (18 tablespoons) Caribbean jerk seasoning (Littleton recommends McCormick brand.)
1 Light a grill to medium-high heat.
2 Rub each tuna steak with about 1½ tablespoons of jerk seasoning (or more, to taste).
3 Grill until medium rare, about 90 seconds per side.
4 Slice the steaks into thin strips, slicing against the grain. Each steak should yield between 9 and 12 strips of fish.
To assemble the tacos:
18 soft taco shells
54-72 slices of grilled tuna
1 Place 3 or 4 slices of tuna in each soft taco shell.
2 Top each with salsa and slaw, dividing the recipe evenly among the shells.
3 Fold tacos and serve.