Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Raw Fish, Two For One

A while back I discovered a Japanese market in Little Tokyo. As happens every time I visit a Japanese market, I came out with a ton of impulse buys -- sugary sweets and snacks, chewy mochi, or some mysterious delight in super-cool packaging. This time, among other things, I came out of the store with a pack of thin shreds of seasoned roasted seaweed. Not exactly sure why. Anyway, this was ingredient #1 to get rid of.

Also, for some reason, I had a glut of cucumbers in my fridge. Ingredient #2.

And finally, jicama is the largest vegetable in the world. You hack at it for days and you still have a giant hunk leftover. I think it actually grows overnight in my fridge while I'm sleeping. #3.

I decided to make a sushi salad. So yesterday on my lunch break, I went to Mitsuwa to get some fish. First, Brian and I got a chance to pretend we were back in Tokyo while taking in some soba and katsu, then on to the shopping. The fresh seafood section was impressive -- bright orange salmon, tiny single-serving pompano, shimmery mackerel, and much more. There was even miso-marinaded salmon ready to be cooked -- ah, the perfect solution for the modern housewife.

From within that fishy crowd, the ahi was calling my name -- all firm and bright pink, it looked very fresh. And, I managed to find quite a deal. A large chunk of sushi-grade ahi goes for about twenty-six dollars a pound. But, to buy it pre-diced, it's half the price. Bring on the dice; I was going to dice it for the salad anyway. And it came with a little package of wasabi too. Boundless generosity!

So, I got home, started putting everything together, and realized I got too much fish. This was a problem because, once it's even a day old, I'm pretty sure I don't want to eat it raw. And ahi tuna cooked through just isn't that good. What to do? I wrapped it back up and stuck it in the fridge, putting off dealing with this conundrum until after dinner.

As I was eating my completed (and might I say, delicious) salad, inspiration struck: ceviche! The stars aligned to make this work. I had a single lime in my vegetable drawer. I had no onions, but had bought a bunch of scallions for the sushi salad. The white ends would be a fine substitute. And, magically, there was some cilantro on the verge of turning into sludge in the fridge -- I don't even recall why I had purchased cilantro (surely it was meant to be, though). I even had black bean chips to scoop it all up -- not quite the same as the crispy corn tostadas I'm used to with ceviche, but, a bird in the hand, right? I don't know if tuna is standard for ceviche, but with all the latin American countries that riff off the basic idea, one of them must use it. And if they don't, well they should!

So, after dinner, I quickly put it all together, and chucked it in the fridge. I had dinner waiting for me when I got home tonight. The lime juice had 'cooked' the outsides of the tuna, and the insides were still rosy pink. It was refreshing, super healthy, and saved me from the horror of -- shudder to think -- throwing away perfectly good ahi tuna.

Ahi Sashimi Salad
for dressing:
1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
prepared wasabi to taste
1/4 tsp pickled ginger, finely minced (optional)

for salad:
4 oz sushi-grade ahi tuna, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 - 3/4 cup cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/4 - 1/2 cup jicama, peeled and thinly julienned
1 Tbs green onion, the green parts only, thinly sliced
small handful toasted seasoned seawead, shredded
a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds

To make dressing, combine all ingredients. Mix thoroughly to dissolve wasabi. Place tuna, cucumber, jicama, and green onions in a bowl. Add dressing, toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with seaweed and sesame seeds.

Notes: I used a combination of Persian cucumbers and hothouse. I scooped out the seeds from the hothouse. I didn't have pickled ginger on hand, but I think it would have added great pungence and sweetness -- not to mention its pretty coral color. If your seaweed has abosrbed moisture and gone soggy in the cupboard, just toss it around in a nonstick pan over high heat for about a minute.

Tuna Ceviche
4 oz sushi-grade ahi tuna, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Juice of 1 lime (2 if they're small)
A few splashes Tapatío or other hot sauce, to taste
2 Tbs green onion, the white parts only, thinly sliced
1/4 cup jicama, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 Tbs cilantro, chopped
a generous pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together. Stir thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight. Serve with tostadas or tortilla chips.

1 comment:

  1. just found your blog via comment on food blog scool. Glad to hear you'll be at the food writing class--so will I.

    I just ate at a crudo place in SF last night and your post makes me realize I could totally do it at home if I wanted to....Need to visit mitsuwa!