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“lame name” game

I seriously need your help! I created the most dazzling dish the other night but I can’t figure out what to name it. I dreamt about it that night, prayed about it the next morning, and have been racking my brain, but everything I come up with is lame and doesn’t do this divine tuna justice. So, I turn to you, my smart, clever, and innovative followers for help and support. If I use our suggestion, a cookbook shall be sent or delivered to you, with my undying gratitude. As Dave said, “This should be on a high-end restaurant menu!” Keep that in mind whilst conjuring up your nom de guerre. Wow, look at how my vocab has increased, just since yesterday! Incredible how using a thesaurus can change your life.

OK, enough of that, on to the tuna. I planned to sear the tuna and serve it with sugar snap peas. I was also thinking of adding cannellini beans and shelled edamame, but when I actually went to make it, I had neither. Dang it, now what? Marissa and I had been out running errands all day and the last thing I wanted to do was get back in the hot car. As usual, that meant it was time to improvise. Sometimes that turns out so so, other times the results are truly awful, but this time – pure genius! I do believe it was the red kidney beans that really made the dish pop. I understand that they appear to be a strange addition, but somehow it worked.

One note about the tuna; some people don’t enjoy it as rare as others. But if you cook it all the way through, it has no flavor, is dry as a bone, and you’ve ruined an expensive and beautiful piece of fish. Here is my solution … after slicing the seared rare tuna, return to a medium-high skillet and sear the bottom side of the slices for only 15 to 20 seconds. This re-warms the fish and cooks it a bit more but still leaves just enough rare on the top, giving you a pretty presentation side while still retaining the moistness and most of the fabulous flavor.

Seared Ahi Tuna atop Peppers, Peas, and Beans

1 to 1 1/2 pounds ahi tuna
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
1 large red bell pepper, sliced into strips the same size as the snap peas
2 cups sugar snap peas
15.25-ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted

Season all sides of tuna with Chinese five-spice, salt, and pepper, and set aside.

In a small bowl, blend together vinegar, soy sauce, chili oil, and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, and set aside.

Pour 1/4 cup water into a medium skillet and bring to a simmer.  Add the bell pepper strips; cover and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the sugar snap peas; cover and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add 1/2 of the vinegar-soy mixture to the pan along with the drained kidney beans and garlic. Simmer for 2 minutes, then add to the bowl with the peppers and peas.

Wipe out the skillet. Return to heat and add the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil. When hot, sear the tuna for 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending upon the thickness.  When seared on all sides, add the remaining vinegar-soy mixture to the skillet, turn off the heat, and cover. Let tuna sit in the pan with sauce for 1 minute. Remove from pan and set aside.

Return vegetable-bean mixture to the skillet and heat through for 1 minute, stir in basil and mound on serving plates.

Cut tuna crosswise into 1/4-inch slices; arrange over vegetable-bean mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Serves 4

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1 Connor { 09.26.10 at 9:07 AM }

… I got nothin’! Of course fancy restaurants don’t usually name their dishes crazy names. That’s more like something that Denny’s would do. Fancy places just put on their menu something like “Seared Ahi Tuna atop Peppers, Peas, and Beans”

2 sloane { 09.26.10 at 9:28 AM }

“Chicken of the Sea Surprise!”

3 Linda Hopkins { 09.26.10 at 8:49 PM }

Sloane, I can only hope and pray that you are kidding… that does sound like a Denny’s name though! So good job on that!

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