Fennel Crusted Tuna Steak with Spicy Lemon Aioli

If you read my weekend posts you'll know my sister and her BF were in town.  Needless to say the weekend was full of booze and delicious food very little of which I cooked, but as we shopped at the St Lawrence Market on Saturday we knew that a low-key Sunday night would be in order.  We narrowed the protein down to seafood, mainly because of how gorgeous and appealing the seafood counters are at the market. Even though I'd be cooking I left the decision on what kind of seafood to the rest of the group.  They decided on some gorgeous but massive tuna steaks. We picked up two along with a whole ton of cheese for pre-dinner snacking and then it was up to me to put together a meal.

I don't cook a whole lot of fish, not that you'd know from recent posts, so I wasn't all that confident with what to do with these ruby red slabs of fish.  I knew that a nice sear was the way I wanted to go but I wasn't sure how I wanted to flavor it.  I was pretty exhausted after cooking brunch for everyone and an afternoon of mimosas, caesars and movies so I knew I wanted something easy.  I came across a great and easy sounding recipe on Epicurious.

Fennel Crusted Tuna
adapted from Epicurious
serves 4

2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp whole black peppercorn
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
2 lbs of tuna steak
4 Tbsps olive oil

1. Combine the first three ingredients in a small skillet. Toast over medium heat until fragrant, shaking the skillet occasionally, about 3 minutes.  Grind spice mixer in a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a bowl and mix in 1 tsp of salt.
2. Prepare a grill pan over high heat. Coat tuna steaks with olive oil. Sprinkle with spice mixture. Grill tuna until seared on the outside and rare in the center, about 4 minutes per side. Refrigerate uncovered for an hour, then cut into 1/2" thick slices.  Serve drizzled with spicy lemon aioli.

Green Beans with Tomatoes & Shallots

1 large shallot
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 of a 28oz can of whole roma tomatoes - chopped
1/2 lb green beans - trimmed
salt & black pepper

1. Heat a 4 quart sauce pan over medium heat with olive oil.  Saute shallots for 5 minutes, or until translucent.  Add in the roma tomatoes and saute for 5 more minutes.
2.  Add in the green beans and toss to mix with the tomatoes and shallots.   Cover the pot, lower the heat and let cook for 7-10 minutes until the beans are tender.  Serve while hot.

Spicy Lemon Aioli
from Stir by Barbara Lynch
makes 1 cup

2 large egg yolks
1 tsp harissa or sriracha
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup grapeseed oil or mild tasting olive oil

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, harissa, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper until combined. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking nonstop until the mixture begins to emulsify.
2.  As the mixture thickens, whisk in the remaining 2 tsps of lemon juice and continue to whisk in the oil until the mixture has achieved a thick mayonnaise-like consistency. Taste & adjust the seasonings.

This dish was a hit with the boy, my sis and her BF.  The boy just kept going mm, mm as he was eating and not speaking which is always a good sign. I was frankly a bit shocked at how well it went over.  While it was very good, I think it was also a reaction to all of the rich food we had eaten over the course of the weekend.  The success of this dish gave me a bit more confidence with fish and I look forward to playing around with it more as the year progresses.

Here's how the last few days shook out:

Sunday February 20 - Fennel Crusted Tuna Steak with Green Beans with Tomato & Shallot

Monday February 21 - Broccoli & Wild Mushroom Quinotto

Tuesday February 22 - Ah-mazing dinner out at Massimo Bruno's Supper Club