Continuing with my endeavor to eat healthy, whole foods, which includes incorporating more fish in my diet, I tried a new spin on a simple tuna steak dinner. I forget how much I adore tuna. Not only do I eat it raw in sushi, but I also enjoy tuna salad and certainly love a tuna steak. High in protein and low in fat, tuna, preferably Yellowfin tuna is an item you want to buy on the same day you plan to use it for optimum freshness. 3-4 ounces of the tuna should suffice for each serving. Talk to your fishmonger at your grocery store or market. They are happy to help you with the proper serving size and welcome questions about their product. This idea came from a recipe I saw Rachael Ray do on her show, 30 Minute Meals on The Food Network. She made a Sicilian feast with an anchovy and Kalamata olive pasta and tuna steaks with a citrus gremolata. A "gremolata" is a condiment or topping to add to a meat or seafood dish usually prepared with herbs, garlic and lemon zest all finely chopped. I love the idea of using a gremolata to add an extra flavor boost to any simply prepared protein. Since I already had Kalamata olives, lemons and parsley, I decided to make the gremolata out of those ingredients and use it to top a seared tuna steak. With leftover red kale and spinach in my fridge, wilting those greens would make for a perfect bed for presenting my tuna steak. I had planned on adding some grains to this dinner but the tuna steak looked hefty enough with the greens and gremolata that I chose to skip the carbs for this meal.
The health benefits of eating fish are endless; it is good for your body and your brain. It took me a long time to embrace fish and seafood. I was the kid who ordered a hamburger at a seafood restaurant while my parents and sisters tore through a huge plate of boiled seafood like shrimp and crab. Some may judge and think-how could you be a true New Orleanian without loving seafood? Well, eventually I did come around. I certainly always enjoyed eating crawfish at crawfish boils, even when I was young. I was properly taught by my Paw Paw how to remove the head, peel the boiled, red crawfish and get the most meat out of each piece of spicy, hot mud bugs! At some point in high school, I found an appreciation for sushi, which definitely made me more open to try different kinds of fish. Now, I enjoy many kinds of fish and even love oysters. If you aren't into fish, then I encourage you to just start trying it. I never, ever thought I could stomach an oyster until I ate a perfectly fried oyster at Mother's Restaurant in New Orleans. Just taste it because you won't know how much you love something until you try it!
Lizzy M.'s Seared Tuna Steak with Kalamata Gremolata
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, grated or minced
1 tsp lemon zest, grated
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 -4-5 oz. tuna steak (1 per person)
Half of lemon, slice into large pieces (Use to cook with the tuna and also use as a garnish.)
Greens (Use any kind of green that you have like kale or spinach.)
1. On a cutting board, chop the olives. Add the chopped parsley, grated garlic, lemon zest and black pepper on top of the olives. Run your knife through all of these ingredients together and combine them. Place in a bowl and set aside.
2. Season each side of the tuna steak with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a squeeze from a lemon wedge and a small amount of extra virgin olive oil.
3. In a large saute pan, heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over medium to high heat. Add the tuna steak(s) and allow to sear for about 5 minutes. Squeeze the remaining lemon wedges over the tuna and drop into the pan. Gently flip the tuna steak to sear the other side for another 5 minutes.
*Do not over cook your tuna steak. For the best flavor from your tuna make sure to buy it on the same day that you plan do use it. Also, tuna is best when it is raw and pink in the center. You may have to adjust the cooking time depending on the size and thickness of your tuna.
4. In another small saute pan, heat the greens with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Allow the greens to wilt down by cooking on a medium to low heat for about 4 minutes.
5. When serving, first add a generous amount of greens to the the plate. Place the tuna steak cut in half on top of the greens. Spoon the Kalamata Gremolata on top of the tuna along with a lemon wedge from the saute pan.
Experiment with cooking different kinds of fish, and you will be an expert in no time. There is no need to limit your diet to the same old chicken or beef because there are so many other wonderful things out there to enrich your diet. So open your mind and your kitchen to something different. Change is good.