What is tataki? Although I am not a Japanese cuisine aficionado, I do enjoy a good tuna tataki. Tataki is seared, sliced tuna with a citrus dressing. This sesame seed tuna tataki with pickled onions is inspired by my recent East coast trip with a final destination to Nantucket where I spent a week eating all the fresh seafood my body could handle! From Maryland blue crabs with Old Bay seasoning, lump crab cakes, scallops, cod, soft shell crabs, lobster, self caught porgies that were eaten within two hours of being caught to delicious fresh tuna!
This sesame seed tuna tataki with pickled onions is a simple outer crust made up of a combination of black and white sesame seeds, coarse sea salt and coarse ground pepper. Pickled onions are added for crunch as well as to provide the acid that the tataki needs. Serve this will ponzu sauce which is a combination of soy and citrus that can be bought in most grocery stores and it's a winner.
Tips for making tuna tataki with pickled onions.
Make sure you buy your tuna from a reputable vendor. Some purveyors sell defrosted tuna steaks which are perfectly fine. Look for tuna steaks that are either light pink or deep red, but not oxidizing and turning brown. There may be a strip of darker muscular meat within the steak which is perfectly fine. The muscle of the steak should also not be separating as this is an indication that the fish has been on display too long. The fish should also not smell overpoweringly fishy. Buy cuts of tuna about one to one and a half inch (~3-4 cm) thick. The thinner the steak, the quicker the sear to avoid overcooking the tuna.
Calculate about 1/3 of a pound of tuna per person as the meat is dense so it goes a long way when sliced and served as an appetizer. If you are at a dedicated fish store like Gliddens Island Seafood in Nantucket, you may be able to request a "block cut" piece of fish which is perfect for this tataki.
Thinly slice onions and sprinkle with salt. Using plastic gloves or a plastic bag to avoid the smell of onions on your hands, squeeze the onions to break down the cell membranes that hold the juice.
Placed the squeezed onion in a bowl without its juice and add sugar and vinegar. The onions will absorb the vinegar.
Tuna tataki dry rub
This tuna tataki dry rub combines white and black sesame seeds, coarse black pepper and coarse ground salt. Place these in a bowl.
Coat the tuna steak on all sides with the sesame seed mixture.
Heat a cast iron skillet until really hot. Add cooking oil to prevent sticking and sear the tuna steak briefly on all sides. Do not burn the sesame seeds.
Plating sesame seed tuna tataki salad with pickled onions.
Allow the tuna to cool. Layer the salad with arugula and pickled onions.
Slice the tuna a little less than half an inch (1 cm).n Drizzle the ponzu sauce onto the tuna tataki or serve on the side. Enjoy!
SESAME SEED TUNA TATAKI SALAD WITH PICKLED ONIONS
- 340 g sushi-grade tuna steak
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil.
- Ponzu sauce
- 1 large onion
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- 113 g arugula leaves or equivalent
- Wash tuna and pat dry with paper towels. Allow some moisture to remain so dry rub will attach.
- Combine the black and white sesame seeds, coarse salt and medium ground black pepper.1 Tbsp black sesame seeds, 1 Tbsp black pepper
- Mix well.1 tsp coarse salt
- Place mixture in a flat container.
- Place tuna steak in dry rub mixture until well coated.340 g sushi-grade tuna steak
Prepare pickled onions
- Finely slice onion with a mandoline or knife and place into a bowl.113 g arugula leaves
- Squeeze onions with a gloved hand or plastic bag to extract onion juice.
- Sprinkle with salt.
- Pour ⅔ the dressing into the bowl with sliced onions to marinate.
- Preheat cast-iron skillet over high heat and add oil.1 Tbsp cooking oil.
- Sear crusted tuna 30 seconds to a minute on each side depending on the thickness of the steak. Less time for thinner steaks.340 g sushi-grade tuna steak
- Place on a cutting board to cool.