Seared Ahi Tuna Salad (with Spicy Ginger Vinaigrette)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

There are not a lot of healthy places to eat lunch around my office.

And by not a lot, I mean one, Bay Naturals, a local health food store with a deli attached.  I'm pretty sure they know my order by heart and always remind me it would be smarter for me just to call in rather than waiting in a line for 15 to 30 minutes (it's a popular spot). 

Problem is, although I love Bay Naturals, I am always hopeful that I will discover a new, healthy option to enjoy for lunch.  You know, to spice my weekly routine up a bit. 

You know you're old when finding a new lunch spot is the highlight of your work week.

On a typical day that I actually leave the office for lunch, I will drive around town for a good thirty minutes trying to find something new to eat, only to end up back at Bay Naturals, in line for my Dill Chicken Salad with Green Goddess Dressing and a Black Tea. 

One day I got lucky.  I'd even go so far as to say I hit the jack pot for new lunch spots.  I found my way into Sobaya Japanese Restaurant by way of a recommendation from some of the lawyers at my old firm who gave it a glowing review.  It did not disappoint. 

The food is so fresh and delicious, not at all what you would expect to find at your typical Japanese lunch spot.  They do have the expected tepanyaki style dishes (albeit better, with fresher ingredients and the most amazing ginger sauce I have ever tasted), but they also offer sushi, udon, soba, and ramen noodle dishes, creative salads, and rice bowls.  Icing on the cake - the people that work there are so unbelievably friendly.  They always put a smile on my face.  

My favorite lunch dish is their seared ahi tuna served over mixed greens with seared asparagus, shaved cucumbers, and a mind blowing homemade yuzu (citrus) dressing.  It's truly unreal - words cannot describe my love for this salad. 

So the point of this long, round about story with the accidental review of two local restaurants is this - I freakin' love this salad so much, I was determined to recreate it at home.  Unfortunately I have not been able to get my hands on yuzu (a Asian citrus fruit), so I substituted the yuzu dressing with a spicy ginger vinaigrette.  It's pretty tasty, but only a close second to the yuzu. 

So if you live in the area, give Sobaya a try, if for no other reason than to tell me how I stack up.

Seared Ahi Tuna Salad (with Spicy Ginger Vinaigrette)
Serves: 2
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  10 minutes
Total Time:  40 minutes

For Spicy Ginger Vinaigrette Dressing
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of sesame oil 
2 tablespoons of grape seed oil
2 tablespoons of mirin
2 tablespoons of orange juice
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
Sriracha (start with 1 tablespoon and keep adding until dressing reaches desired spiciness)

For Salad
1 pound of ahi tuna (halve if one whole piece)
2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil (or other oil to cook with)
8 ounces of mixed greens, divided
1 bunch of asparagus (cut of tough ends)
1 cucumber (or four minis)
2 avocados, diced
Spicy Ginger Vinaigrette 

For Dressing:  Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk well.

For Salad:  Thinly slice cucumbers using a vegetable peeler or mandoline.  Season tuna salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil to skillet and allow to heat.  Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper, and sear for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.  Remove asparagus and wipe pan clean (careful, its pretty darn hot).  Allow pan to reheat over high heat.  Add remaining tablespoon of oil and allow to heat.    Sear tuna for 2-3 minutes per side (for medium rare).  Slice tuna against the grain.  Assemble spring mix, sliced cucumber, asparagus, avocado and tuna on a plate.  Top with Spicy Ginger Vinaigrette.  Serve with extra Sriracha on side.  Store excess dressing in fridge for a week or so.

Inspired by Ahi Tuna Salad from Sobaya Japanese Bistro in Myrtle Beach.

It goes without saying my opinions are not important enough to get paid for.  I just really like these restaurants and they fit perfectly with today's post.  


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