A CURMUDGEON’S DINNER
The family were away in the city this weekend leaving me alone with two dogs and Antarctic weather. It really was incredible by Saturday night, bleak, with high gusting winds and temperatures falling a degree an hour. All night and into Sunday the wind blew the snow into crests, frozen white waves poised to break over woodpiles and fences, the essing shape of the wind written across fields and yards. Each trip out for wood was worse than the last as the light, dusty snow filled in any path I could dig from the porch to the logs. It will be noted by some that Saturday was Valentine’s Day. I am an atheist and a curmudgeon, so I don’t celebrate the pagan holidays any more than I celebrate the Judeo-Christian ones. One god is one god too many. I am also a Romantic, a serial monogamist who is quite happily in love after 20 years of marriage. Anyway, enough of that!
Sunday I spent reading Marianne Hauser and The Wife of Bath’s Tale, and writing about Hauser’s unbelievably beautiful and haunting story Allons Enfants, about the death of her sister at age 14 of meningitis, during World War 1. Saturday I went to The Kingsmen at the mall, directed by Kick Ass director Matthew Vaughn (you know, good enough, with caveats) and ate one of my favorite dinners, a dinner I reserve for solo dining, because it is expensive, a seared tuna steak served with a Thai inspired sauce of tomatoes, onions, garlic and jalapeno. Tomatoes suck this time of year. Sometimes you can find a decent plum tomato. What I do is buy organic grape tomatoes. These seem to have the sweetness. It is spicy, salty, sweet and delicious with a bed of white rice and steamed broccoli. I murdered a few glasses of red wine with it.
This recipe is for one tuna steak. I had a particularly large one, nearly a pound. I could not and did not finish it, but 3/4s of a pound would have been just fine. I liked this one because it was thickest. I don’t think you’d have to double the recipe to make two, just increase everything by a bit.
Spicy Seared Tuna Steak for one
1 tuna steak, ¾- 1 pound
2T cracked black pepper
2T cracked coriander seed
2 good pinches of salt
2T safflower, peanut or canola oil
½ of a large red onion, sliced into ¼ inch wedges pole to pole
2T ginger chopped into chunks, skin on
2T garlic chopped coarsely
1 jalapeno pepper (find a hot one, with a black blush) chopped coarsely
1 cup organic grape tomatoes, sliced in half
Juice of one big juicy lime and an equivalent amount of fish sauce, mixed with 2T sugar
½ cup shopped cilantro
Sprinkle each side of the tuna steak with cracked pepper, coriander and salt, and push the spice rub into the steak. Get the frying pan very hot, add the oil. Sear tuna over very high, smoking heat for about 4 minutes per side, so it is not cooked through but has a nice crust. Add a little more oil and then fry the onions, ginger and garlic rapidly. Add the jalapeno. Lower the heat, add the fish sauce and lime juice mixture and the tomatoes. When it boils, throw in the tuna steak and cook another minute on each side, until just done. How rare you want your tuna is up to you. It dries out quickly, but I’m not sure in upstate NY I should be eating raw fish. So I do it until it is just done. The Canadian rule is 10 minutes per inch. So boys, measure your fish, and back off the rule slightly. That oughta do it. Add the cilantro and serve with white rice and a vegetable.