Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Seared ahi with mango chutney, coconut cilantro rice, and sesame cucumber salad

I wanted to introduce you to my garden today (otherwise known as the Proof of Concept), but I thought I'd wait for the weekend so I can snap my lovelies in the sunshine. I'm not really cooking out of it yet, anyway. But when I am, in a month or two, I will use mint, cilantro, onion and a cucumber out of it to make this meal (not addressing the tragedy that is me not owning a mango tree).

The mint actually did come from the garden, since I couldn't find mint seeds and had to use a transplant.

My cilantro has sprouted, though, and is extremely cute.

I've had a similar Ina Garten recipe flagged for a couple of months and haven't gotten around to making it, so when I noticed mangoes on sale last week I knew I had to put it on the menu. I love fruit in savory applications, and the sweet heat from the mangoes and chili are a lovely complement to the mild meatiness of the ahi. If you are skeeved out by eating rare fish, I would recommend switching to a different variety entirely - overcooked tuna is basically cat food. This chutney would be delicious on any firm white fish, like swordfish.

I did make a few changes, including substituting a Thai chili for the jalapeno in the original recipe (because I love them). For those of you unfamiliar, this is a Thai chili.

And it will hurt you. Seriously, those little suckers are hot. They come in a package of like a thousand at your local Asian market and freeze beautifully in a Ziploc, so you can take them one out at a time. Trust me, one is enough.

1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped fine
1 small knob of ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Thai chili, minced
1 ripe mango, diced small
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp brown sugar
6-7 mint leaves, julienned

1/2 cup white rice
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced however you like them, seeded if necessary
drizzle of sesame oil
dash of rice wine vinegar (or cider, whatever you have)

2 ahi tuna steaks, rinsed and patted dry
2 tsp sesame oil

Get your rice going first. Combine the water and coconut milk in a small pot and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of kosher salt and the rice, and cover. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, until it's done (according to the package directions). Stir in the cilantro.

While the rice is cooking, add the olive oil to a saucier on medium-low heat and sweat the onion, ginger, and garlic for a few minutes. When the onion goes soft and translucent, add the Thai chili and mango, letting that cook for another 5 minutes on low. Finally add the orange juice and brown sugar, cover, and allow to cook for 10 more minutes or until the mango has broken down. Remove from the heat and stir in the mint. 

Toss the cucumber rounds with the sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, a pinch of kosher salt and a grind of pepper.

Coat each of your tuna steaks in a teaspoon of sesame oil, then liberally salt and pepper them. If you use a grill pan like I did, preheat it a good 10 minutes before adding the steaks. Otherwise, I would probably cook them in a non-stick pan with a little olive oil. When the pan is hot, add the steaks and set your timer for 2 minutes. Flip. (Silicone-tipped tongs are best for this. Don't have tongs? Get some. You will use them every day.) Wait 2 more minutes. Plate a mound of rice, few slices of cucumber and your ahi, then liberally slather in chutney.

Serves 2, takes 45 minutes (if also drinking wine and pausing to kiss doggies from time to time).

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