|Asparagus-Crusted Ahi Tuna with
David Burke of
Manhattanís Park Avenue Cafť was, I believe, the first to make
asparagus-crusted tuna. Iíve borrowed his method, adding sesame seeds to
the coating, and serve the fish with an asparagus vinaigrette. And because
more is often more, I spear each tuna portion with an asparagus stalk
before frying it.
This isnít hard to prepare, but the fish must be absolutely fresh.
Insist on #1 grade ahi tuna and check to make sure that the fish youíre
offered is deeply and consistently red in color; that itís moist but
never sticky to the touch; and that it smells fresh, like the sea itself,
never fishy. Above all, buy from a fish merchant you trust.
24 medium asparagus spears,
8 cut 1/16 inch thick
1/4 cup canola oil, plus additional for deep-frying
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound grade #1 ahi tuna, cut into 4 2x1-inch portions
1 cup rice flour
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, plus 1/2 tablespoon toasted for garnish
4 egg whites, beaten until foamy
1. Bring a large quantity
of salted water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with water and add ice. Boil
the whole asparagus spears until tender-crisp. About 3 minutes. Drain and
transfer to the ice water. When the spears are cold, drain well, setting
aside 4 spears.
2. Cut the top 2 inches from the remaining 12 asparagus spears, set aside,
and roughly chop the remaining spears. In a small bowl, combine the 1/4
cup canola oil and the sesame oil and mix. In a blender, combine the
chopped asparagus, the mustard, and the lemon juice. Blend, slowly adding
the mixed oils. Season the vinaigrette with the salt and pepper to taste
and set aside.
3. To prepare the tuna, insert a metal skewer into one short side of each
tuna portion and push it through the opposite end. Work the skewer to
create small channel, and push 1 of the reserved asparagus spears through
each tuna portion. Allow 1 inch of stalk to protrude on either side.
4. Fill a fryer or heavy medium pot one-third full with the canola oil and
heat over high heat to 400 f. Meanwhile, season the tuna generously with
salt and pepper. Spread the rice flour on a plate and dredge the tuna in
it. Add the sliced asparagus and raw sesame seeds to the egg whites and
mix well. When the oil is hot, coat each tuna piece in the egg white
mixture and deep-fry, turning with tongs as necessary, just until the
coating is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not allow the tuna to
overcook; it should remain rare in the center. Remove the tuna with a mesh
spoon and drain on paper towels.
5. Toss the reserved asparagus tops with half of the vinaigrette. Divide
the tops among 4 plates. Halve the tuna portions along the length of the
asparagus and place on top of the arranged asparagus. Drizzle the plate
with the remaining vinaigrette. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and
Mingís Tip: Donít overcook the Tuna; It should remain rare and
cool in the center. The temperature contrast between the exterior and
interior of the tuna is part of the pleasure of this dish.