Thursday 14 May 2009

Wasabi and Avocado Potato Salad with Seared Sesame Tuna Steaks

Nose-nuking wasabi paste and gentle, buttery avocado are unlikely bedfellows, I admit. But when combined in a creamy dressing and poured over freshly boiled and cubed spuds, they... well, I suppose they come together. With fireworks and a celestial choir.

I am a devoted fan of potato salad: not the yellow, greasy Sixties version, but a lighter, brighter breed of salad, made with unskinned boiled baby potatoes and dressed with a mixture of thick white yoghurt, good mayonnaise, lemon juice, mint, parsley, chives, onion and the slightest twang of garlic.

Because I was planning to serve some lovely fresh tuna steaks for supper, I thought I'd add wasabi paste to the dressing. It tasted stingingly good, but the dressing wasn't the very pale pistachio-green I'd hoped for , so I stirred in the finely mashed flesh of a ripe and voluptuous avocado. To my surprise, the delicate taste of avocado gave the aggressive wasabi flavour a good punch on the nose - and the result was a tie.

The ingredients for the dressing should be whisked together just minutes before you serve this dish. The first time I made this salad, I concocted the dressing before I put the potatoes on to boil, and 45 minutes later I found it had turned from a creamy wobble into a thin, bubbly liquid. Why the mixture liquefied, I don't know, but it had something to do with the wasabi and the avocado. Maybe their knees just turned to water?

Wasabi and Avocado Potato Salad with Seared Sesame Tuna Steaks

18 small new potatoes (or 8 waxy, thin-skinned young potatoes)
1 T (15 ml) salt
2 ripe avocados

For the dressing:
1/2 an onion, peeled and very finely chopped or grated
the juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup (180 ml) good mayonnaise (such as Hellman's, or home-made)
3/4 cup (180 ml) thick plain white yoghurt
1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
1 - 2 t (5- 10 ml) wasabi paste, to taste
1 ripe avocado
a dash of Tabasco sauce (optional)
a handful of finely snipped fresh chives
salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the tuna steaks:

4 fresh tuna steaks
6 T white sesame seeds (or a combination of sesame and shelled pumpkin seeds)
3 T (45 ml) olive oil or vegetable oil
salt and milled black pepper

Put the potatoes into a big pot and cover with water. Add the salt and bring to the boil. Boil for about 30 minutes (depending on the size of the spuds) or until they are quite tender, but not splitting.

While the potatoes are cooking, combine the grated onion and the lemon juice in a small bowl, and set aside (the lemon juice will take the sting out of the onions).

Sprinkle the sesame seeds onto a plate. Press the tuna steaks, top and bottom, into the sesame seeds, so that both sides are well coated. Put the steaks onto a big plate, in a single layer, cover with tightly with cling-film, and press down with the palm of your hand so that the seeds adhere to the surface of the steaks. Place in the fridge.

Remove the potatoes from the heat, drain in a colander and set aside to cool while you make the dressing and cook the tuna steaks.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and, when it's very hot, add the tuna steaks. You may need to do this in two batches, if the steaks are bigger than the palm of your hand. Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side (you'll see, by observing the edges of the steaks, the flesh turning opaque as it comes into contact with the heat). When the opacity has crept two or three millimetres up, flip the steaks over and cook for a few more minutes. I like tuna with a lovely rare, rosy centre - that is, virtually raw inside - but feel free to cook the tuna right through if you'd like it that way. Remove the tuna steaks from the heat and set aside to rest.

Cut the warm cooked potatoes into chunks (or leave them whole if they're tiny baby ones). Skin the avocados, cut them into cubes, and sprinkle with a little fresh lemon juice to prevent them browning.

Now make the dressing. Put the onion and lemon-juice mixture into a big bowl. Using a wire whisk, beat in all the remaining ingredients, except for the chives. (Wasabi paste comes in various degrees of nose-blasting fierceness, so I suggest you add a teaspoon to start, and add more to taste). Check the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary, and then tip the potato and avocado cubes into the dressing. Toss very lightly to combine. Tip into a salad bowl and scatter with the finely snipped chives.

Using a very sharp knife, cut the tuna steaks into slices, and arrange around the edges of the potato salad.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6
Print Friendly and PDFPrint Friendly

1 comment:

Nina Timm said...

Holy crumbs this looks good!!! Love, love, love grilled tuna and get it fresh off the boat now and then. I cannot wait for my next fresh tuna to arrive so I can try this delicious recipe!!!