Okonomiyaki

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Conserved Tuna Salad August 18, 2008

Filed under: Cooking,Japan,recipes — laurel @ 11:22 pm
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Salad of conserved tuna with potatoes, green beans, and roasted red peppers

I couldn’t resist Russ Parsons’ recipe for Italian-style conserved tuna that appeared in the LA Times food section recently. There’s never any shortage of fresh tuna at my market, so I picked up a block of mebachi maguro (bigeye tuna) to try it out. Parsons recommends yellowfin or albacore tuna, both of which can be Monterey Bay Aquarium best choices for sustainable seafood, but seafood sustainability hasn’t made the same splash in Japan that it has in the US, so most markets just stock what is popular (usually bigeye and bluefin). Since my market didn’t have yellowfin (kihada) or albacore (bincho/tombo), I chose the “good alternative” bigeye over bluefin. The bigeye tuna is also more affordable than the bluefin. If you want to learn more about sustainable seafood choices, click the link on the right for “Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.”

I started by making the conserved tuna, which was really simple. The hardest part was keeping the heat low enough since my smallest saucepan is pretty thin. Next time I try this recipe, I think I’ll use a bigger piece of tuna so that I can pack it a bit more snugly into the pan, as I had to use quite a bit of oil to cover the fish. I probably used a piece of fish that was closer to 200 to 300 grams (about half a pound).

While the tuna was cooking I prepared some vegetables for the tuna, potato, and green bean salad. I took a few liberties with the recipe such as serving the salad on top of lettuce and using balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard to make a vinaigrette-type dressing instead of following the recipe, which called for sherry vinegar. I also used fresh red bell peppers that I roasted on the stove to remove the skins instead of jarred. The salad turned out great, and there were plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day. For the next day’s salad I tossed in a few handfuls of leftover cooked chickpeas as well, but I forgot to leave out the onions, which would have been a wiser choice for lunch at work.

I loved how easy it was to make the conserved tuna, so I’m looking forward to trying it again soon. Delicious!

Here’s the original recipes from Russ Parsons; Los Angeles Times, August 6, 2008.

Conserved Tuna

1 pound fresh tuna (albacore or yellowfin), cut 1 to 2 inches thick
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sliced garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 piece lemon peel (about 3/4 inch by 2 inches)
1 cup olive oil, plus more if necessary

Trim any skin, bones or dark blood spots from the tuna and discard. Cut the tuna into large cubes (at least 1 inch) and place them in a 1-quart saucepan. Add the salt, red pepper flakes, garlic and a pinch of black pepper and stir gently to distribute seasonings evenly. Arrange the tuna snugly in the pan so you won’t need to use too much additional oil. Add the bay leaf and lemon peel and pour over enough olive oil to just barely cover the fish. It will be about 1 cup, though you may need a little more for topping off.

Place the saucepan over very low heat and cook until the tuna just begins to flake, about 15 minutes. The oil may get hot enough that a few bubbles rise from the bottom, but it should not simmer. The top temperature shouldn’t exceed 160 degrees.

Cool the tuna to warm room temperature in the oil before transferring to a container for storage in the refrigerator. If you’re going to use the tuna the same day, refrigeration is not necessary. The tuna will keep, tightly sealed and refrigerated, for at least a week, but not more than 10 days. Warm to room temperature before using.

Each quarter-cup serving: 125 calories; 13 grams protein; 1 gram carbohydrate; 0 fiber; 7 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 26 mg. cholesterol; 312 mg. sodium

Tuna, potato and green bean salad

1 pound conserved tuna, plus some of its oil, at room temperature
1/4 cup finely diced red onion, divided
Salt
1 1/2 pounds small boiling potatoes, unpeeled
Freshly ground black pepper
Sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon capers
3/4 pound green beans, stem ends removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 anchovy fillets, preferably salted
2 jarred roasted red peppers, such as piquillo, cut into strips
2 teaspoons chopped parsley

Place the tuna in a bowl and stir it with a wooden spoon to break it into large flakes. Stir in just enough of its oil to moisten it, 1 to 2 tablespoons. Add 1 tablespoon of the red onion and season to taste with salt.

Steam the potatoes until they are tender, about 20 minutes. As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them at least one-fourth-inch thick and place them in a mixing bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, season them with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper, about 2 tablespoons of the oil from the tuna and 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Gently stir in the capers and another tablespoon of red onion and arrange the seasoned potatoes in a low mound on a platter.

Steam the green beans until they are tender, about 6 minutes. Place them in the same mixing bowl and season with one-eighth teaspoon salt and a small pinch of pepper, another tablespoon of red onion, the fresh olive oil and another teaspoon of vinegar. Scatter the green beans over the top of the potatoes on the platter.

If using salted anchovies, rinse them well to soften them and remove excess salt; if using oil-packed anchovies, slice each fillet lengthwise into 2 strips. Spoon the conserved tuna over the beans and garnish it with the remaining red onion, the pepper strips and the anchovy strips. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Each of 6 servings: 362 calories; 22 grams protein; 26 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 19 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 36 mg. cholesterol; 845 mg. sodium.

recipes copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times
writing copyright 2008 LMS

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