Two concerns frequently confront me when I entertain. The first is time. Like countless others, I do not have enough of this commodity, so I am always searching for good dishes that can be prepared in short order. The other concern involves cooking with less fat, because more and more of my guests are zealots about counting fat grams. So, I have been challenged to come up with menus that are simple yet delicious, and at the same time moderate in fat.
Not long ago, I prepared such a meal for my husband and me. On a hectic weeknight, after both of us had spent the day at work, I lightly brushed some beautiful tuna steaks with garlic oil and then sprinkled them with salt and pepper. Next, I browned shiitake mushrooms in garlic oil, simmered them in stock for a few minutes and then added green onions, garlic, ginger root and soy sauce for more flavor. Finally, I seasoned the mixture with orange zest. After quickly grilling the tuna steaks on a stove-top grill pan, I mounded the warm "relish" on top of the fish and added sauteed baby spinach and fluffy white rice as side dishes.
As is often the case, a dinner prepared for my family turns out to be a favorite and then gets repeated for company. For house guests, I am planning to expand this menu. I'll add a first-course salad of mixed greens, sliced plum tomatoes and julienned fennel tossed in a mustard vinaigrette dressing, and a dessert of sliced, toasted, store-bought pound cake mounded with fresh strawberries and served with scoops of good frozen vanilla yogurt. And I might replace the spinach with bundles of spring asparagus or tender green beans.
Grilled Tuna Steaks With Warm Shiitake Mushroom-Orange Relish
Makes 4 servings
2 1/2 tablespoons oil
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
4 tuna steaks, 3/4 inch thick and 5 to 6 ounces each (bluefin or yellowfin tuna works well)
salt, freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and caps cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons peeled, finely chopped ginger root
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions, including 2 inches of green stems
3 teaspoons grated orange zest (color portion of rind)
2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus 4 parsley sprigs for garnish
To prepare tuna, place oil and crushed garlic cloves in small skillet over low heat. Heat slowly until garlic barely begins to color and is fragrant, 5 to 6 minutes. Discard garlic and remove skillet from heat. Set skillet with oil aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
Using about 1 tablespoon oil, brush tuna lightly on both sides, then salt and pepper generously. Set steaks aside while you prepare mushroom relish.
To prepare relish, heat 1 tablespoon garlic-flavored oil in medium, heavy skillet. When hot, add mushrooms and saute, stirring, until mushrooms are limp, lightly browned and begin to stick to pan, 1 to 2 minutes. Add stock and bring to boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until stock is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add soy sauce, minced garlic, ginger root and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until liquid has almost evaporated and mushrooms are soft, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in green onions and 2 teaspoons orange zest. Taste and add salt if needed. Set aside and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
Heat grill pan or medium, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brush pan with enough of remaining garlic-flavored oil to coat lightly. When hot, add tuna and cook until just thin line of pink remains in center of each steak, 1] to 2 minutes per side. Do not overcook.
To serve, place steaks on serving plate. Top each with warm mushroom relish. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and remaining 1 teaspoon orange zest. Garnish steaks with parsley sprigs.
Pub Date: 6/21/98