Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Big Tuna


We are just beginning to ramp up our summer-grilling and like most seasonal activities–skiing, school-lunch packing, outdoor Christmas light decorating, wood-chipping–there’s always that beginning trial-and-error period where you stumble around a bit before saying, “oh, right, that’s how I do that”. In the case of choosing what to grill for dinner, it took us a few days of just throwing on burgers and hot dogs to remember how delicious things like shrimp kebobs and watermelon wedges taste when cooked on a charcoal grill.

The latest revelation was putting on a few beautiful, thick cuts of tuna. Honestly, I think marinated tuna is one of the tastiest things ever when cooked on a grill, as good as skirt steak, or lamb burgers, or any other fine piece of protein. A simple marinade of salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon or lime zest, crushed garlic, fresh chopped oregano or rosemary, is all you need; marinate for 20 minutes in the fridge and then you’re good to go. When I grill a fish like a salmon fillet, I use a soaked cedar plank, but with tuna I prefer to place it right on the grill because it’s meatier and I want to get that lovely sear. It’s just important to remember a few things so you don’t perform like a complete rookie:

Make sure your grill is clean. Use a metal grill brush to scrape off any charred bits and pieces, and then right before you place the tuna on the grill, brush it with enough vegetable oil to lightly coat.

Cook the tuna over high heat. Tuna is not delicate, it can take it, and you’re not going to cook it for very long, just enough to have a nice crust and pink middle.

Don’t flip the tuna until it’s properly seared. You’ll know this is the case because you’ll be able to easily lift it off of the grill with a spatula. If it’s still sticking to the grill when you try and flip it, then leave it alone for a bit longer. Once you’ve turned it over it will probably need no more than a minute on the second side to be cooked enough and ready to take off the grill.



As soon as I took the tuna off the grill I squeezed some lemon on top and drizzled it with a little bit of olive oil. I served it with a simple grape tomato and mozzarella salad, steamed sugar snap peas from our HSA, green salad, and a warm potato salad that I splash generously with champagne or white wine vinegar right after steaming and then dress with whole grain mustard, prepared horseradish, Greek yogurt or drippings from bacon if I made some that morning, salt and pepper, and plenty of chopped parsley. I actually made an extra piece of tuna so I could have it the next day for lunch–flaked and dressed with a little mayonnaise and placed on whole grain toast, perhaps with some smashed ripe avocado on top—but the dog jumped on the table and ate it (Does your dog do this kind of thing? Steal leftovers?). I can’t say I blame him, but it was still a major bummer being out smarted by an 8- pound Morkie.


Another use for leftover grilled tuna (if the dog doesn’t get it) is one of my favorite summer-vacation-rental-house lunches: a grilled tuna nicoise salad made up of baby spinach, thin slivers of red onion, crumbled feta, black olives, medium-boiled eggs, and ripe tomato, all dressed with a red wine and oregano vinaigrette. BLISS.



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