One thing I have truly loved about exploring the South is venturing into local butcher shops. One can find anything from alligator and frog legs to bacon, boxes of cow, and lamb. It was with great self-restraint that I passed up the pricey swordfish in favor of the slightly-more-economical tuna steaks.
If you’ve never had freshly ground coriander, pairing it with tuna is an excellent introduction. Its subtly bitter, floral quality is a delight to the senses and sidles up to tuna’s meaty character with a surprising amount of acidity. If you’re not sure what else do to with whole coriander, consider using it as a chicken rub or brewing it as tea with a little fennel and cardamom.
This truly is a “treat yo’self” dinner; your plate will be full of fresh herbs and healing whole spices, healthy fats from the coconut milk, and protein from the tuna. Great for a date night or weekend dinner, or post-workout protein binge.
Tuna is very low in fat and calories, and contains no carbohydrates. This means it is nearly pure protein. In a 3.5 ounce serving, tuna contains 20 grams of protein. This is good for folks who are trying to watch their weight or cholesterol intake. Tuna also contains antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids as well as several minerals, including magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and selenium, which helps to counter the deleterious effects of any trace amounts of mercury which may be present. Google recommends eating tuna no more than three times a month, for those of you who might be concerned about mercury. The average tuna can is about five ounces, whereas most steaks are around eight.
After my ingredients were prepped, it was just a matter of cooking the rice, soaking the quick pickles in an air-tight bag with their sugar-vinegar solution, and searing the steak.
Chopped cilantro, scallions, lemongrass, fish sauce, and lime juice percolate in a bowl while the cucumbers pickle and rice and tuna cook. Slice up your steak, spoon up some of the herb mixture, and enjoy!
This will definitely be in my rotation for favorite dinners…
Coriander-Crusted Tuna Steak With Coconut Rice and Quick Pickles
- rice cooker (optional)
- 1 cup white rice, ideally jasmine or sushi rice
- 1 cup chicken or veggie stock
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 2 6 oz tuna steaks, about 1 inch thick
- 2 Tbs untoasted sesame oil, plus more for brushing
- salt, to taste
- 4 Tsp whole coriander seeds, ground in spice mill or mortar and pestle
- 4 Tsp freshly cracked black peppercorns
- 3 Tbs sesame seeds, untoasted
- 3 Tbs black sesame seeds (optional)
- 1 large lime, juiced
- 2 lemongrass stalks, with tops removed and tender bulb sliced into thin medallions
- 2 Tbs fish sauce
- 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
- 2 scallions, sliced halfway up the stalk
- 1 medium-heat red pepper, such as an Aji or Cayenne, sliced into thin rounds (remove the seeds if you are sensitive to heat)
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, unseasoned
- 2 Tbs white sugar
- 1 Persian cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
- If using, add rice, chicken or veggie stock, and coconut milk to the rice cooker and turn on. Otherwise, combine the three ingredients in a medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer undisturbed until rice is tender, about 25 minutes.
- Using a mandoline or sharp knife, thinly slice cucumbers and red pepper into rounds. Combine rice vinegar and sugar together and stir until completely dissolved. Pour vinegar into a quart sized zip-top bag with cucumber and pepper slices and seal, removing as much of the air as possible so veggies are coated in the solution. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, pat tuna steaks dry with a paper towel. Brush with 2 Tbs sesame oil and lightly season with salt, bearing in mind you will be topping the steaks with fish sauce and lime juice which accentuate salty flavors. Generously pat ground pepper, coriander, and sesame seeds onto the steaks until the surface is completely covered. Set aside.
- Combine chopped cilantro, lemongrass bulb medallions, scallions, fish sauce, and lime juice in a medium bowl and stir. Set aside.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until smoking. Add roughly 3 Tbs of sesame oil to the pan, followed by your steaks. Steaks are cooked after 2 minutes per side, but I prefer my steaks closer to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool. Cut into thin strips and place on a plate with coconut rice and drained quick pickles. Top steak strips with cilantro mixture. Serve immediately.