Grilled Ahi Tuna with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

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Wolfgang Puck In the recipe that follows, I grill fresh pineapple as the basis for a chunky salsa that I spoon alongside each serving of ahi. You could also substitute papaya with equally good results. The intense heat of the grill concentrates the flavors of the fruit and caramelizes some of its sugars, resulting in a salsa that vividly highlights the taste and texture of the fresh seafood.

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Ingredients

  • GRILLED PINEAPPLE SALSA:
  • 1 whole small ripe pineapple
  • 2 tsp. Asian-style chili oil
  • Salt
  • 1/2 C. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 C. lime juice
  • 2 Tbs. bottled Southeast Asian-style fish sauce (nuoc cham)
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1/3 C. peanut oil
  • 1/4 C. Asian-style toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 C. diced sweet onion (such as Maui or Vidalia) or red onion
  • 3/4 C. peeled, seeded, and diced cucumber
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • GRILLED AHI TUNA:
  • 1 1/2 lb. whole sushi-grade ahi tuna fillet
  • Peanut oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

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Directions

Preheat a hot fire in an outdoor or indoor grill. First, prepare the salsa. While the grill heats, use a sharp knife to cut off the leaf and stem ends of the pineapple. Then, stand the pineapple upright and cut off the peel in downward vertical slices. Use a small, sharp knife to cut out any tough "eyes" remaining in the fruit. Lay the fruit on its side and cut the pineapple crosswise into 1-inch round slices. When the fire is hot, rub the pineapple slices all over with the chili oil and season lightly on both sides with salt. Place the slices on the grill rack and cook until they soften slightly and have deep brown grill marks, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove them from the grill and set aside to cool. Then, cut the fruit away from the hard central core on each slice, discarding the core (or eating it as a snack). Coarsely chop the fruit and measure out 3/4 C., reserving the remainder for another use. In a nonreactive mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce and soy sauce. Whisking continuously, slowly pour in the peanut oil and sesame oil. Add the pineapple and as much of the onion as you like and stir well. Stir in the cucumber, mint, basil, sugar and white pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time. The salsa will keep well for up to 24 hours. To prepare the tuna, lightly drizzle the tuna fillet all over with peanut oil and then season it well with salt and pepper. Place the tuna on the hot grill and leave it to sear on each side for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until its surface has good brown grill marks. The inside should remain rare. Remove the tuna from the grill to a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut the tuna fillet crosswise into slices 1/4 inch thick. To serve, spoon some of the pineapple salsa onto each serving plate and drape the tuna slices on top. Or arrange the slices overlapping on each plate and spoon the salsa over the fish. Serves 4 to 6.

(Chef Wolfgang Puck's new TV series, "Wolfgang Puck's Cooking Class," airs Sundays and Wednesdays on the Food Network. Write Wolfgang Puck in care of Tribune Media Services Inc., 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY. 14207.)

©2004 WOLFGANG PUCK WORLDWIDE, INC.

DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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