Seared Tuna on a Himalayan Salt Block

A perfect option for cold weather grilling

It's late November, Thanksgiving is looming and the winter weather has arrived early. But those of us who love to grill will still find a way to get outside and cook up something special, even if the weather is less than ideal.

With that being said, the weather does pose a challenge--the colder temps inhibit the high heat searing we all love from our grills. An easy solution? A salt block. Salt blocks are great to use any time of the year, indoors or out, but they're perfectly suited for these colder temperatures and to use on your grill. Think cast iron--the lovely black pans that last for generations and are so heavy they just sear so well. The same principle holds true with a salt block--it's so heavy that it retains heat extremely well, which in turn allows it to sear extremely well.

Among the many wonderful searing companions, tuna is one of my favorites. Increasingly popular among restaurants now, a sesame seared tuna is extremely easy dish to pull off - served with its usual friends: soy sauce & wasabi. All in all, it's quite delicious, and if you butcher your tuna right you can get make some tuna tartare as an appetizer.

How to prepare the tuna

1. Before working on the tuna, place your salt block on a cold grill and turn then turn the heat to high.

2. Next, beginning with larger chunks of tuna, I like to break mine down into individual portions.

3. Start by cutting your tuna into 2-inch wide strips.

Note: You'll notice the "scrap" pieces to the left that contain more connective tissue. This is what I like to reserve for tartare since that connective tissue will be broken down by cutting it into smaller pieces.

4. Cut into individual sized portions, I shoot for about 4 inches, giving you a generous 2" x 4" tuna steak.

5. Season the tuna. Be very generous with sesame seeds--I use a combo of black & white, but focus on the black for the contrast with the seared tuna. You can find black sesame seeds at any Asian grocery store if you're lucky enough to have one. Make sure to season all four sides, as we'll be searing the tuna on all four sides.

6. Your salt block should be plenty hot by now (say about 20 minutes to heat up thoroughly--it is heavy.) Place tuna on the salt block and allow to sear about 60 seconds per side, just searing the outermost portion.

7.  Sear all four sides of tuna. Slice thin to serve, or leave it more like a steak--it's your choice.

I served mine with an enhanced soy pudding, a spiced pea puree, seaweed salad, and radish.

How to prepare the tuna tartare

Here's the list of ingredients you'll need for the tuna tartare:

  • 1 jalapeno, deseeded & brunoise
  • 1 tbsp red onion, brunoise
  • 1 tbsp ginger, brunoise
  • 1 tsp garlic, brunoise
  • 1 tbsp Sambal
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Go-Chu-Jang
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • grated lemongrass to taste

1. Begin by dicing the remaining tuna into smaller cubes and place in a mixing bowl.

2. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, and serve. I served it three ways: with cilantro, radish, and crispy wontons.

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