Lemongrass-Crusted Tuna Steaks
by Kate Heyhoe
This recipe was originally inspired by über-chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's tuna skewered on lemongrass, but took a major departure about halfway through its creation. Instead of skewering the tuna and grilling, I made a coarse, thick, lemongrass rub, touched with a hint of mint, then fried the marinated steaks in a bit of oil, to create a crisp, brown crust. Where Chef Jojo, as he's called, balances the lemongrass-infused sauce with a bit of sugar, I employed a light cream reduction. The dish seems more complicated than it really is, and a food processor, or the chopping bowl and attachment of a hand blender, speeds up the recipe in both preparation and clean-up.
5 stalks lemongrass
3 tablespoons corn oil (or neutral-flavored oil)
1 sprig of fresh mint leaves (about 9 leaves)
2 albacore tuna steaks (12 to 14 ounces total)
Freshly ground black pepper.
1/2 cup cream
1-1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons lemongrass broth (see steps below)
Freshly ground dried green peppercorns, or black pepper.
1. Prepare the lemongrass stalks: Remove the top and root ends, and peel the outer tough layers from the stalks. Keep the trimmings, but discard any layers that are dirty. Cut about 3 inches of the thickest part of each stalk into 1-inch lengths. Set aside. Cut the remainder of the stalks, the tougher sections, into 1-inch lengths and place these in a separate pile..
2. Mince the tender sections in a food processor with the shallots, 2 tablespoons oil, and mint leaves. Process until the shallots are chopped and the mixture is a course paste. (Mixture will be fairly dry.)
3. Place the tuna steaks in a container for marinating. Season the tuna on each side generously with pepper. Spread the minced lemongrass mixture all over the tuna, pressing the mixture onto the tuna surface. Cover and marinate overnight, refrigerated.
4. When ready to cook the tuna, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy skillet until hot. Carefully add the tuna steaks, keeping as much crust on them as possible. Fry 1 to 2 minutes, or until the crust is crisp and golden brown. Flip the tuna and fry the other side another 1 to 2 minutes. Tuna should be slightly pink in the center. Serve the steaks hot, with the Lemongrass Cream drizzled around them and any extra in a small dish on the side.
To Make the Lemongrass Broth and Lemongrass Cream:
1. In the same work bowl (do not rinse) used to process the marinade, process the remaining lemongrass trimmings until coarsely minced. Place these in a container with an equal amount of water. (You should have about 1-1/2 cups of minced trimmings.) Refrigerate overnight.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil, covered, over medium-low heat. Simmer until the sauce reduces by half, about 20 minutes. The mixture will look thick and porridge-like. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Strain the sauce over a bowl, pressing on the trimmings to release excess moisture. You should end up with 1/2 to 2/3 cup of strained sauce.
3. Rinse out the lemongrass broth saucepan and add the cream. Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced by half. Add the fish sauce, 3 tablespoons of the reduced lemongrass broth, and a generous amount of ground green peppercorns or black pepper. (Reserve any remaining lemongrass broth for another use, such as for cooking vegetables.) Simmer 3 minutes or so, just to combine the flavors. The sauce will be a bit thin, but flavorful. Use as directed above.
Copyright © 2003, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created June 2003