Recipe by Chef Rick Hackett of Bocanova
Look for this appetizer on Bocanova’s Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes menu. Chef Hackett says to sear the tuna in a light flavorless oil such as grape seed oil, so as not to detract from the flavor of the salt-cure or the tuna itself.
Yield: 6 servings
- 12 ounces sushi-grade Hawaiian ahi tuna loin, fabricated into a rectangular bar
- 1 ounce Old Istanbul Blend from Juliet Mae (an exotic blend of Turkish spices and chiles)
- ¼ ounce coriander seed, toasted and coarsely ground
- ¼ ounce cumin seed, toasted and coarsely ground
- ½ ounce ground Marash chile pepper (a Turkish chile pepper that resembles Aleppo pepper)
- ¼ ounce black peppercorn, coarsely ground
- ¼ ounce pink peppercorn, coarsely ground
- 2 ounces sea salt, finely ground
- 1 ounce black sea salt, finely ground
- 1 ounce granulated sugar
- Zest of one orange
- Zest of one lime
- 2 ounces high-quality sherry wine
- Grape seed oil for searing
In a stainless steel nonreactive bowl, mix together all of the dried spice ingredients along with the salt, sugar, and orange and lime zest.
Using a pastry brush coat the ahi tuna bar on all sides with a liberal amount of sherry wine. Then place the sherry-coated tuna bar into the stainless steel bowl with the dried spice mix. Using your hands, gently press generous amounts of the salt-spice cure mix onto each of the 4 sides of the tuna bar.
Place the spice- and salt-covered tuna bar on a roasting rack set over a sheet pan to catch the drippings from the tuna as it cures in the refrigerator. Allow it to cure for at least 24 hours, but no more than 36 hours.
When ready to serve the tuna, remove it from the refrigerator and brush away the dried spice-salt cure from all sides. Heat some grape seed oil in a sauté pan to very hot and quickly sear the ahi on all four sides. Allow it to cool completely and then using an extremely sharp slicer, portion the tuna into equally thin perfect slices. Serve with a salad of lightly pickled cucumbers garnished with cilantro and thin slices of ripe avocado.