Seared Tuna over Soba Noodles

I look forward to making my meals each day. First my morning Smoothie, then a big salad for lunch and a gourmet dinner I plan and shop to find just the right ingredients. Planning and preparing my meals is a peaceful time in my day and I look forward to sitting and quietly eating the fruits of my labor. Asian cuisine is my favorite as I love to layer flavors one on top the other. Eating this way brings one taste after another combining cooked food with herbs, seeds and special condiments.

I have fallen in love with anything ramen. Having dinner in NYC the other night I ordered a vegan ramen bowl with a mushroom based broth topped with noodles, lotus root, tofu and a few things even I didn’t know the names. I came home inspired by the dish, especially since I had a kabocha squash sitting on the counter for the past two weeks. It did need to ripen, but not any more, so it was going into the recipe. I like to take my time, listen to my favorite music and create my meal knowing it will fuel my body-mind for the day and future days still to come.

NOTE: Make extra marinade as half is used to marinate the tuna and the other half makes a delicious sauce for the final dish. I wrote out the directions in order of preparation. As the tuna steaks are marinating you can get the squash cooking, then start on the hijiki, then toast the pumpkin seeds, and when those are done you can cook the noodles and sear the tuna. You can see how most of these steps can be done the day before and heated for assembly when ready for dinner. Done this way, from start to finish it should only take you about 40 minutes.

Seared Tuna over Soba Noodles
Yields: 4 servings

4 (6 ounce) tuna steaks
1 Kabocha squash
1 package Soba noodles
3 kale stalks, leaves removed and chopped
1/4 cup dried Hijiki seaweed
1/2 cup raw Pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon sesame or vegetable oil

Marinade / Sauce ingredients
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon white miso
1/8 cup hot water

1. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, mirin, honey and sesame oil. Divide into two equal parts. Dissolve the miso in hot water, add the rice vinegar, and half the marinade as one part and set aside to be used as a miso sauce.
2. Pour the other half of marinade into a glass dish and add the tuna steaks. Turn to coat with the remaining soy sauce mixture, cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.
3. Split and seed the squash. Cut into half moon shapes 4-5 pieces per half. Lay out the squash in a large, heavy skillet and add water about 1/3 the way up the pieces. Sprinkle with sea salt or soy sauce. Cover and heat to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until all water has evaporated and you can smell the squash begin to burn, about 20 minutes. (A flame deflector works well under the skillet to insure even cooking). Turn off heat and let sit covered until ready to serve.
4. Meanwhile, soak the hijiki for 10 minutes in a small saucepan. Change water, add a half teaspoon each of soy sauce and mirin. Bring to a soft boil, reduce heat and simmer another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit until ready to serve.
5. Heat a small skillet (no oil) add the pumpkin seeds and stir to roast over medium heat. They will pop and brown so keep them moving to distribute the heat evenly. When browned remove to a glass bowl and add a few drops of soy sauce, stirring well to coat the seeds. Set aside to cool.
6. Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt lightly and add the soba noodles and kale. Return to a boil, cover and turn off heat. Let sit about 6 minutes.
7. While noodles are cooking heat sesame oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot. Place steaks in the pan, and sear for about 30 seconds on each side.
8. Drain the noodles and kale and divide between plates or large bowls. Spoon a tablespoon of miso marinade over the noodles and toss to coat. Surround noodles with squash, add drained hijiki and pumpkin seeds.
9. Slice the tuna and lay on top the noodles. Spoon remaining miso marinade over tuna. Serve while warm.

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