Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pepper-seared Sashimi Tuna

I finally understand the difference between a $3 roll at Sushi World and a $20 artisan roll at a nice restaurant. The latter most likely uses sashimi grade fish, which, I found out yesterday, does not come cheap.

We bought this beauty at Wellstone Fresh Seafood in Willoughby. I'd read online that they supply seafood to some of the best Japanese restaurants in Sydney. There, I learned that sashimi grade tuna is not the same as a regular tuna steak. In fact, it's twice the price (approx. $20 for 300g) and much deeper in colour. I went home and Googled what makes sashimi grade fish special and it's actually in the way it's caught. Sashimi grade fish is individually caught by hand and killed instantly before chilling. No wonder you rarely see raw tuna at takeaway joints.

This tuna was so tender that the pieces almost fell apart while I was slicing it, and, like most things good in the food world, it melted in my mouth. I have to give credit to Nigella for the pepper crust recipe. Served with a salad of red cabbage, cucumber, spring onion and a soy and wasabi dressing and steamed rice, it was the perfect combination of textures and flavours for a light Summer dinner.

This dish is also an entertainer's dream. You can prepare the tuna and vegetables in the morning and set them aside in the fridge. Then when your guests arrive, you only need to spend 10 minutes searing the tuna, dressing the salad, slicing the tuna and prettying up on a plate.

You'll need:
Sashimi grade tuna
1 teaspoon English mustard
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Peppercorns, lightly cracked
¼ red cabbage
1 cucumber
3 spring onions
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
½ tablespoon sesame oil
½ tablespoon wasabi
1 teaspoon castor sugar
Juice of half a lime
Sesame seeds (optional)
Steamed rice (optional)

Serves 4.

Combine English mustard and sesame oil and rub on tuna.

Roll tuna in pepper, coating well on 4 sides (leaving the ends bare).

Julienne the vegetables and dress with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, wasabi, castor sugar and lime juice.

Sear each peppered side of the tuna in a hot pan (it should be smoking) for approximately 1 minute or until you can see 1mm of cooked meat. Be careful to not cook any further than that as it will continue cooking off the heat.

Rest tuna until cool.

Slice thinly and arrange on a plate. Garnish salad with sesame seeds.



  1. Love the beautiful simplicity and the contrasting colours. A beautiful dish for summer!

  2. This looks quite delightful. Wish I could get sashimi grade tuna or salmon out here in the bush... I have a major hankering for this now!