Grilled Yellowfin Tuna Salad

Tuna SaladLet’s just agree that you forgive me for calling a pan seared piece of fish “grilled.” I used a grill pan so it is really just pan seared with pretty lines. But, it is still hot as heck here and we are now back in the land of homework and puppy training and pan fried with pretty lines is passing my “good enough” test this week. A grill pan and a strong vent can be your friend on a week night. Go outside and grill the heck out of your fish if you have the inclination. Take a beer, as well as mosquito spray if you live around here.

This salad was originally invented and tested for use with grilled swordfish. And, truth be told, I prefer the swordfish just slightly over the tuna, but they are both fantastic. Many of you will look at this salad and say, “ah, it is a Salad Niçoise!” to which I would respond, “sort of.” It is a Salad Niçoise in all respects except those that I suspect are truly the definitional elements of that dish. I’m not an olive person. Olive oil, yes. Olives, not so much. And, I didn’t employ anchovies, either. To truly call a salad an inspiration of the South of France region for which the Niçoise Salad is named, the French Riviera city of Nice to be exact, I believe one has to pay homage to the olives and to the fact of the Mediterranean Sea. I, however, don’t want to. So put that in your pipe and smoke it. Further, you might find questions as to whether a truly Provençal dish would be laden with steamed potatoes, as mine is. I really cannot be sure. I am also too busy at the moment to keep finding the “ç” character on my word processor. It is irritating me greatly, actually. And, I’ve never been to Nice, or further in France than the admittedly impressive Charles de Gaulle airport where I was stuck for 24 hours on my way to La Tavola Marche last year. So, I will not pretend that my culinary exploits with regard to this dish are anything other than a product of Google, heavy daydreaming, and childish aversions to certain things. So there…”grilled tuna salad” it is. Onward.

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Maine Lobster Bites

Lobster seems to be one of those rarefied experiences that we reserve for only the most special occasions. In fact, I think we often overlook its potential because we assume that it is out of reach…a crazy indulgence. While it is certainly an indulgence, it can be a really wonderful addition to a holiday party, and as an appetizer, a little can go a long way.

I have been around and around over how to best use lobster. I have bought tails, and whole lobsters, and grappled with what a big undertaking it can be. Because, if you are going to use lobster, you definitely want to optimize the experience and make this premium ingredient shine.

I’m in Texas. Let’s face it, I am not a lobster natural, if you will. But that also means that I had to start from the beginning to learn how to use it best. Here is what I learned: Lobster is best cooked immediately. Buying tails out of a refrigerator case is not necessarily optimal. Tails are brilliantly simple, though, I’ll admit. Live whole lobsters allow you to cook them live or just after dispatching the little fellow. This is optimal, but it is also a big production.

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Smoked Salmon, a cool dinner on a hot evening

photo of smoked salmon serviceA fact…you can feed your family a meal of smoked salmon with all of the trimmings for less than it costs to go to Subway.

It is too hot to keep the oven on long. It is too hot to write too much. So, this is your easy and beautiful cool dinner for this week. Don’t save it just for dinner, either. This is such an easy thing to set out for guests. And, it is delicious.

photo of how to prepare baguette for smoked salmon service

Smoked Salmon, a cool dinner on a hot evening
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Recipe type: fish
Author:
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Total time:
Serves: 4
The simplest dinner of them all. Smoked salmon is a rather elegant throw-down dish. This serves 2 as a light meal, or 4 as an appetizer. Always have a few packs on hand.
Ingredients
For the salmon
  • 8 ounces of smoked salmon
  • 1 white onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 lemon, sliced and quartered
  • Crackers, toast points, or garlic toast (pictured)
  • Crème fraiche or sour cream thinned with milk
  • Optional: hard boiled egg, chopped fine
For the toast
  • 1 French baguette, sliced thin
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced in half
  • several tablespoons of soft butter
Instructions
  1. To make the toast, heat the broiler on the oven. Thinly slice a baguette. Rub each piece of bread with the cut side of a garlic clove. Brush each piece with butter. Place the slices on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet under the broiler until they are lightly golden. Flip over the slices of bread and let them toast just a bit on the other side, as well. Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool.
  2. Separate the salmon, which is generally pre-sliced. Arrange the salmon and the toppings on a platter and enjoy. Each guest should place a few slices of salmon on a toast and squeeze a bit of lemon on the salmon. The crème fraiche is basically involved to keep the capers from rolling all over hell and damnation (your nice rugs and pretty upholstered chairs). At least that is my understanding. So if you like capers, place a tiny dollop of crème fraiche on the salmon first

photo of types of smoked salmon

Notes:

This salmon is the Whole Foods house brand and is MSC certified. I haven’t fully wrapped my brain around the MSC thing. I think it is positive that there is a system for encouraging healthy fisheries and building good standards for harvesting fish. I do not believe, however, the lack of the certification necessarily implies that a producer is not up to par. The presence of it merely provides extra assurances. Don’t abandon your favorite brand because it is lacking the certification if you are otherwise confident in the producer.I’m keeping my eye on this issue. I think it is fascinating. Feel free to weigh in on the matter if you are in the know. I’d love to hear your opinion.

Carr’s water crackers are a great substitute if you don’t want to turn on the oven at all. I won’t tell.

photo of smoked salmon serviceYou might also enjoy this post called Salmon on Toast with Honey Tarragon Sauce, wherein I talk about the differences between “hot smoked” and “cold smoked” salmon.

Poached Fish with Garden Vegetables

photo of poached fish with garden vegetablesI am in a period of fish confusion. While I am not a prolific fish eater, I like fish a lot. And, I like it more than a lot when it is prepared for me. However, I persist in believing that fish is difficult to prepare. In reality, this could not be further from the truth. Fish might be one of the easiest things in the world to prepare, and it is exceptionally forgiving. Overcooked fish is about a million times more edible than overcooked beef or chicken or pork. Let’s not make that a goal, of course, but you get my point.

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Tuna on Ciabatta with Oil and Vinegar

photo of tuna on ciabatta bread sandwichWelcome to another installment of What I Eat When I Have Only Myself to Please. When I lived in Austin a half a century ago, there was a little sandwich shop, the name of which I have completely forgotten. But they served a tuna sandwich on focaccia bread with an oil and vinegar dressing instead of mayonnaise, and it was terrific. I think it was great because they used tuna packed in oil with more oil on top, which I have not done here. I’m bad, but I’m not feeling that bad at the moment. They also topped it with capers, which at the time I would pick off one by one while cursing whenever I forgot to 86 them.

Today, I bought capers on purpose. You should be proud of me. I am mowing down my food issues one by one. Before you know it I’ll be eating olives and cilantro…thought I would caution you to keep breathing normally.

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