Have you ever been instantly struck with a really random food craving at the most inopportune time - say, for example, at 8:00 in the morning on a Saturday in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina where there is zero point zero chance you could possibly find a restaurant serving anything other than the typical breakfast time fodder?
Well, that is exactly what happened to me this past Saturday morning. I was afflicted with a fierce hankering for tuna the minute I opened my eyes. Not just any tuna either. Fresh, saucy, spicy tuna tataki.
Could I be more random? Raw fish (or fish bait as my dad likes to call it) first thing in the morning before coffee? Yes please.
Naturally, I did what any sensible person would do. I hopped in the car and sped down to the fish market. Apparently, craving fruits of the ocean at daybreak is not too terribly bizarre because the neighborhood fish market throws their doors open at 8:00 am.
I like their style.
After stocking up on the necessities at the market and grocery store, gathering my wallpaper samples, and swinging by to pick up my local produce and meats from the Local Table, I hurried home to whip up my not-so-conventional breakfast (brunch really by this point).
I went to work immediately - seasoning and searing tuna, chopping vegetables and whisking together the ponzu. Everything was going marvelous until about half way into my stacking I realized that in my crazed hunger/unusual craving state I had purchased enough food to feed a small army, and the only person in the house was moi.
Slight problem. We all know that half cooked fish does not make for the best left overs, and there was no way I was going to toss the lion's share of my Saturday morning culinary efforts in the garbage bin.
Obvious solution - picnic time! I packed up the tuna tataki stacks, ponzu sauce, sriracha (extra is ALWAYS a good idea) and a bottle of wine and popped over to the Nitty Gritty Nursery to share my "fish bait" with my sister. We both devoured the stacks in seconds, but I did manage to tuck a few away to share with Scott when he got home.
In hind sight, I probably would have done just fine on my own.
Tuna Tataki Stacks with Ponzu
Serves: 6 to 8 as an appetizer
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
2 lbs of sushi grade tuna (I used yellow fin)
1 tablespoon of avocado oil
1 seedless cucumber, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds or thinner
1 - 2 jalapeno, jalapenos, sliced thin (seeds removed if you want to lessen heat)
1 bunch of cilantro
4 tablespoons of cream cheese
Salt and pepper to season
For the Ponzu:
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/8 cup of lemon juice
1/8 cup of lime juice
3 tablespoons of mirin
1 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
For ponzu, in a small bowl whisk together orange juice, soy sauce, lemon juice, lime juice, mirin, rice wine vinegar and red pepper flakes. Pat tuna dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over high heat and allow to heat for at least 5 minutes. Add avocado oil and, after a minute, tuna. Allow tuna to sear 2 minutes. Flip tuna and sear for an additional 2 minutes. Remove tuna from skillet and allow to cool in the fridge for about 10 minutes while you arrange the tataki stacks. To arrange stacks, spread cucumber slices with cream cheese and top with a few cilantro leaves. Slice tuna into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces and top cilantro leaves with a slice of tuna, a jalapeno slice and a squirt of sriracha. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with ponzu for dipping/dunking/drowning.