Tuna Tartare is probably my favorite hors d’oeuvre, and based on the comments from our friends, it’s one of theirs as well. I just got an email from my friend Patty LeDonne, asking for the recipe. This is so easy to make, and it’s ALWAYS a hit. Just plan to freeze the chunk of tuna for at least an hour ahead of time. It makes it so much easier to cut.
When Mike and I were on the 20/20 program at the Pro Club in Bellevue, we were very strict in what we ate. We limited our protein choices to lean protein, and we had so much tuna it’s surprising that we still love it. I have the recipe for the Seared Ahi with Sesame-Peppercorn Crust from John Howie (formerly head chef at Palisade in Seattle, now chef-owner of Seastar in Bellevue & Seattle). We make the seared tuna quite often at home, and every time we’re “up north” we make it a point to go to one of the afore-mentioned restaurants for that particular signature dish.
Closer to our CA home, we love the Ahi Tuna appetizer at Salt Creek Grille here in El Segundo. We highly recommend it!! If you’re looking for something to make at home, though, this is the one recipe that I recommend. I’ve tried others, and this is my favorite. I serve it at our annual holiday party, being mindful to mix up batches at the last minute so that the tuna won’t be discolored. Get the freshest sushi-grade ahi tuna that you can. I order mine from GROW (ask for Josh) ahead of time, and I request “no dark tuna”. This way I can get a large piece and cut it the way that I want it.
Enjoy this delicious tuna with a glass of Champagne on a special occasion, or just to celebrate LIFE!!
Recipe courtesy of étoile, Domaine Chandon’s restaurant (Napa)
Makes 12 individual servings or 24 appetizers.
Preparation time: Allow 40 minutes.
2 lbs. sushi-grade tuna, finely chopped*
2 scallions, finely chopped
4 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
2 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
4 tsp. garlic-chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
2 tbsp. ponzu sauce (optional)
4 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce
Chopped fresh cilantro and plain, unsalted Japanese rice crackers for garnish
In a medium bowl, combine scallion, cilantro, ginger, garlic-chili sauce, ponzu, sesame oil and soy sauce. Chill 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut partially-frozen tuna into small cubes, and keep chilled until ready to serve.
To serve, combine sauce with tuna and place in chilled martini glasses. Garnish each serving with cilantro and place 2 rice crackers into the tuna at an angle. Or scoop 1 tablespoon mixture onto each of 12 spoons and arrange in a circle (handles pointing out) on a serving plate; garnish with cilantro.
*Chopping fresh tuna finely by hand is easier if you place it in the freezer for about an hour beforehand.
Suggested wine pairing: Chandon Blanc de Noirs
Insidertip: DO NOT make this way ahead of time. Tuna will turn gray-ish (will taste great, but won’t look so hot). You CAN make the sauce mixture a day ahead, but cube the tuna closer to the serving time. If I’m putting this out for a party, I place a bowl of the tuna tartare into a larger bowl of ice to keep it well chilled, and surround the bowls with unsalted rice crackers.