grilled rare tuna with tomato-cucumber salad and tahini sauce

This Middle Eastern-style tuna appetizer is a nod to Lissa’s Lebanese background. Hiro has loved the flavors of Lebanese home-cooking ever since he married into the family, and Lissa’s always delighted to see how those flavors turn up in his cooking at Terra. In Lebanon, this dish would be made with swordfish or shark and served with caramelized onions. We think the use of tuna and the addition of the fresh, crunchy salad make the dish lighter and more intriguing.

Look for tahini made from roasted sesame seeds, which is much more flavorful than the kinds made from unroasted seeds. Sumac is a remarkable Middle Eastern seasoning made from the dried berries of a Mediterranean bush. It has a distinctly sour flavor and beautiful reddish-purple color that can add a little extra touch of sparkle to a dish.

TAHINI SAUCE
½ cup Middle Eastern-style tahini paste
¼ cup hot water
¼ teaspoon grated garlic
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
SALAD
2 large tomatoes, cut into ½-inch dice
2 Japanese cucumbers or 1 hothouse cucumber, cut into ½-inch dice
2 teaspoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 globe eggplant
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 (3- to 3½ ounce) sashimi-grade tune steaks, ¾ inch thick
GARNISH
2 teaspoons pinenuts, toasted
12 Kalamata olives
½ teaspoon sumac (optional)

Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill.

To make the tahini sauce, combine the tahini paste, water, and garlic in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice and process again; if the tahini is still too thick, add more water, up to ½ cup (it should be thick, but not like peanut butter). Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To make the salad, toss together all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

To cook the eggplant, cut four ¾-inch-thick disks from the thickest part of the eggplant. Brush each slice with ¼ tablespoon of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and soft. Or, preheat the broiler and broil 4 inches from the heat source, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

To cook the tuna, brush the steaks with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until lightly browned on the outside and rare inside. Or, heat a grill pan or skillet over high heat until very hot, and sauté the steaks for 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until lightly browned on the outside and rare inside.

To serve, spread 3 tablespoons of the tahini sauce on each of the 4 plates. Place 1 slice of the eggplant in the center of each plate. Mound the salad evenly over the eggplant and top wiht a tuna steak. Sprinkle with the pine nuts, olives, and sumac.

Serves 4.
Everyone knows some of the best Tuna and Seafood dishes can be found in Miami, Florida. So, if you’re looking to find some great dishes or places to eat in South Florida we urge you to check out some of the stellar restaurants that are regulary features in Miami marketing campaigns. These restaurants know how to put the best on your plate and attract local, national and international patrons.

From “TERRA: Cooking from the Heart of Napa Valley ” by Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani