My husband, who is not a tuna aficionado, recently changed his mind about this distinctive fish. During the past few months, while dining at one of our favorite bistros in Paris, he ordered sesame-coated tuna steaks on three separate occasions. Each time I looked on in surprise as he devoured a beautiful tuna steak coated with golden sesame seeds.
The clever chef deserves credit for my spouse's turnaround. First, the cook thought of pairing the smooth textured fish with the slightly crunchy seeds. But more important, he knew that tuna should not be overcooked, so he served the fish just slightly underdone with a pink line running through its center. The flesh was so moist and tender that the reluctant tuna eater ad-mitted that each bite was like velvet.
It occurred to me that this delectable main course would be ideal for entertaining a small group. Particularly light in taste, it makes a refreshing entree to anchor a summer supper. And because the steaks take less than 10 minutes to saute, you can minimize your time in a hot kitchen during the warm weather season.
When I prepared the tuna at our house, I decided to garnish the steaks with sprinklings of orange peel and snipped chives. Both additions added bursts of color and flavor.
As accompaniments, you could serve sugar snap peas, tender green beans or asparagus spears drizzled lightly with sesame oil along with white rice garnished with chopped scallions and minced ginger root.
To keep the menu light, a strawberry or raspberry sorbet mounded with fresh berries and garnished with mint sprigs could end the meal.
The sesame-coated tuna also could be served as a substantial salad. After sauteing and garnishing, simply mound the warm steaks atop a salad of watercress and cucumbers tossed in a white-wine vinaigrette dressing.
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Sesame-Coated Tuna Steaks Seasoned With Orange and Chives
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark roasted sesame oil plus extra for drizzling on cooked tuna
2 tablespoons orange juice
4 tuna steaks, preferably yellowfin or bluefin, 3/4 inch thick and 4 to 5 ounces each
6 tablespoons sesame seeds plus more if needed
vegetable oil for sauteing
salt, freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
4 teaspoons chopped chives
Place soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sesame oil and orange juice in a shallow, nonreactive dish and whisk well to combine. Add tuna steaks and turn several times to coat in the marinade. Marinate at cool room temperature, turning several times, at least 30 minutes or up to an hour.
When ready to cook tuna, spread the sesame seeds on a dinner plate. Lightly coat each tuna steak on all sides with seeds, adding more seeds if needed.
Place a medium, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan lightly. When oil is hot but not smoking, add the steaks and cook about 2 minutes until sesame seeds are golden. Then, using tongs, turn steaks and cook about 2 minutes more. Use the tongs to turn steaks on their side edges and keep turning and searing the edges lightly for a few more minutes. Total cooking time should be 6 to 7 minutes. When done, steaks should have a thin line of pink flesh running through the centers. You can check by making a small slit with a paring knife into the center of one of the steaks. Do not overcook or fish will be dry.
Remove tuna to a serving platter and salt and pepper each steak to taste. Drizzle some sesame oil over each serving, then garnish with some grated orange zest and chives.