Posts Tagged ‘sushi’

TUNA TARTARE

Posted: October 24, 2017 in Uncategorized
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Tuna season is back here in New England. I go to the Aquidneck Farmers Market just outside of Newport, RI on weekends and get my fresh seafood from The Local Catch, because I want local, sustainable seafood. (www.thelocalcatch.com)

For me, the only way to eat tuna is raw, and not just sushi or sashimi. Most restaurants serve tuna seared on the outside and raw on the inside, and you can tell the quality of the tuna just isn’t there. It usually needs to be drowned in soy sauce to have any taste at all.

So finding different ways to marinate quality tuna at home is a great way to get my fix.

The first step is to get the best quality tuna I can afford. That means buying it in season from local fishermen, and buying more than I need. When I find a really nice large slab of tuna, I take it home and cut it into individual portions (about 1 lb. each), wrap them well and freeze them for future use.

Even though tuna rarely has parasites, I don’t usually eat it fresh off the boat. Maybe I’m a little paranoid, but I like the idea of freezing it for about a week. Technically, you need to freeze fish at a temperature of -4°F (-20°C) or below for 7 days, for parasites to be killed. (In the United States, this is required by law of all fish served at sushi restaurants, with tuna being the only exception.) My freezer doesn’t reach -4°F, so maybe I’m wasting my time. But freezing the tuna also makes it easier to cut into small cubes.

Most marinades or ceviches feature lemon or lime as the citrus component. I really enjoy the freshness of grapefruit, and it really works here. This recipe was literally created by opening my fridge and pantry, and grabbing whatever looked good.

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1 lb. excellent quality raw tuna
juice of 1 grapefruit
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
2 teaspoons low-salt soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (I use Fleur de Sel)
1 tablespoon chopped scallions, green part only
sesame seeds (optional)
cubed avocado or plain guacamole

 

If you’re starting with frozen tuna, allow it to thaw just enough that you can cut it into small cubes easily. Place the cut tuna in a bowl and keep it in the fridge.

In another bowl, combine all the other ingredients, except the sesame seeds and avocado. Pour these ingredients onto the tuna and mix well. Put the tuna back in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour.

When you’re ready to serve, use a slotted spoon to place the tuna on a plate, to keep it from being too runny. Top with a sprinkling of sesame seeds, if you like, and serve with fresh cubed avocado, or even plain guacamole.

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When one of your favorite restaurants (I won’t name names) removes a profitable, bestselling dish from its menu, and the reason you’re given is that “the chef is tired of making it,” you kind of have to scratch your head and ask yourself: “What’s wrong with this picture?”

In this particular case, I decided to make it on my own. It’s really not hard to do…just takes a little time. But the end result is totally worth it.

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6 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup + extra mayonnaise
8 oz. high quality raw tuna
3 tablespoons soy sauce (I use gluten-free)
1/2 teaspoon chili oil
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
fish roe (optional, see below)
handful fresh spinach, or cucumbers (see below)

 

The best way to hard-boil eggs is to put them in a pot of cold water. Turn the heat on high and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, turn the heat off and place a lid on the pot. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Perfect eggs every time. Remove the eggs from the water and cool them in the fridge.

If the tuna is frozen, let it thaw a little. If it’s fresh, you might need to place it into the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm up. That makes it easier to cube up. Slice the tuna carefully into the smallest cubes you can make. Once done, place the tuna in a bowl and put it back in the fridge until ready to use.

In a separate small bowl, combine the soy sauce and the chili oil. Set aside.

Finely chop the scallions. Set aside.

Once the eggs have cooled, peel them and cut them in half. Scoop out the yolks and place them in a bowl, starting with 1/4 cup of the mayonnaise. Add more mayo if needed. Mix well. I use a fork and try to get as many of the lumps out as possible. If you want to go crazy, you can put them in a blender or food processor to make a creamy puree. And again, you can place the puree in a piping bag and carefully squeeze out the puree into each egg half. I simply use a spoon.

Once all the egg halves are filled, place them on a spinach leaf-covered dish and put them back in the fridge until ready to serve.

When you’re ready to serve, take the tuna out of the fridge. Pour the soy sauce/chili oil mix into the bowl and mix well. Let the tuna marinate for just 2 minutes. Then pour off the excess marinade, or it’ll get too salty.

Remove the plate of eggs from the fridge and carefully put a small spoonful of tuna on top of each one. Garnish with the sesame seeds and the chopped scallions and serve immediately.

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Optional: Instead of the bed of spinach, here’s another way to serve that works just as well: Peel a cucumber and cut the ends off. Slice the cuke into 1/2″ slices. Then carefully remove the seeds from the center to make a “cuke donut.” Use these as little stands to hold your eggs on the plate. When ready to serve, remove the eggs from the fridge and top them with the raw tuna without marinating it first. Drizzle the soy sauce/chili oil over the top of the eggs, garnishing with the sesame seeds, scallions, and a touch of fish roe.

 

 

I recently spent a long weekend in P-Town with my wife and daughter…my wife enjoying an art conference while my daughter and I enjoyed the sunshine. We’d meet at the end of the day for dinner, and share our stories.

P-Town has a bit of a reputation…and I was told by some friends that after sundown, we should bring our 7-year-old daughter indoors if we wanted to avoid her asking a lot of uncomfortable questions. Well, there were no red leather chaps, no circus freaks. I’m sure that there are certain weekends that may be a bit less family friendly than others, but generally speaking, today’s Provincetown is not the same as the town I visited back when I lived on Cape Cod in the 80’s.

Families walk the main street, Commercial Street, late into the night. Shops, restaurants and galleries cater to all tourists and lifestyles. And why not? A small waterfront town like this relies on its very short summer season to make its money. Why turn people and their wallets away?

There are many restaurant choices in Provincetown, and if you’re looking for top-notch big city fine dining, you won’t find it here. However, there are many good restaurants with creative dishes. And there’s incredibly fresh simply presented seafood that is a staple in New England: clams, oysters, cod, halibut, tuna, and scallops.

 

VICTOR’S

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Victors is a fun place. They serve tapas, and they make it very easy to share by dividing each plate beautifully and simply. The ingredients are fresh and the ideas are pretty good. Sometimes, though, they just don’t hit the mark. The fish taco with halibut was delicious. Duck sliders, however, were too salty. The Caesar salad came out in large, individual pieces of Romain lettuce, sprinkled with the Caesar ingredients on them. An interesting presentation, and again, easy to share. But not exactly what you want in a Caesar salad. Raw tuna Napoleons were good. The bar knows its cocktails and they serve them strong. Service is excellent. Basically, Victor’s is a perfect example of any Provincetown restaurant: good but not great. In a seasonal town, it is hard to maintain quality to the highest standards. But it’s a fun place to go to.

 

MEWS BAR & CAFE

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When a bar boasts 300 vodkas from around the world, I need to check it out. And that I did! I always start with my signature Stoli Elit and then work my way from there. I asked for and received a written list of all the vodkas in stock and being Lithuanian, I was happy to see there was a Lithuanian vodka on the list. I challenged them to present the bottle to me, and it appeared within seconds! Naturally I had to have a drink with it. The bar staff was swamped but always courteous and service was excellent. The bar itself is old and funky and really a lot of fun. I will come back someday for the food, but this time it was all about the martinis. One cool feature was that the olives for my martini were on a skewer that hung on the outside of the glass, and not in the drink. Sort of like truck nuts for a martini. Funky and fun.

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MAC’S PROVINCETOWN

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Mac’s does not have a great view of the water. It’s on a rather busy street that offers no scenery whatsoever. But what they lack in views, they make up for in fresh fish and delicious sushi! Everything we had was spectacular: the mini baked hand grenades (rice, shrimp, scallop, dynamite sauce and eel sauce) should not be missed. The sashimi–we had fresh halibut–was superb.

Sushi at Mac's, including the Hand Grenades in the black dish

Sushi at Mac’s, including the Hand Grenades in the black dish

The broiled yellowtail collar, what they call “Hamachi Kama” in the big city, was the best I’ve ever had. We were there for lunch, so no big drinking going on. But a peek inside showed a beautiful, clean (new) space that could get hoppin’ on any given evening around the raw bar. And next door is their own seafood shop…probably the cleanest I’ve ever seen, selling impeccably fresh fish.

Broiled yellowtail collar

Broiled yellowtail collar

 

 RED INN

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The biggest disappointment on our trip.

After my wife had a pretty good trout dinner at the Red Inn several nights before, we decided we would try again for a Friday night dinner. The place was crowded and it seemed that the wait staff was overwhelmed. Everything on the menu sounded good but all of it tasted like it had been cooked two days earlier and then just reheated before service. The bacon wrapped fried oysters that came with my Caesar salad were greasy, rubbery and cool. The avocado foam on my wife’s beet salad could’ve been anything… it had no flavor at all. The slow braised pork shank special lacked seasoning and it sat on top of a rather flavorless pile of grits. It seemed that the best dish on our table that night was the Kobe beef sliders our daughter had ordered. (And was it really Kobe? I think not, since it can only come from Japan and it’s really expensive. I’m guessing it was Wagyu, the American version of Kobe. Mislabeled menu.)

 

EDWIGE

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Our best dining experience of the weekend.

The soup of the day was an unlikely and fantastic mushroom and lobster soup. We thought the lobster would be lost with the intensity of the mushroom stock, but it was a delicious balance of flavors…really addictive! The tuna tartare was equally excellent. A main course bowl of seafood in a coconut sauce again showed a delicate hand by the chef and was delicious. And a flank steak was moist and tender, despite it being cooked beyond medium when I asked for medium-rare, set on top of a mound of irresistible wasabi mashed potatoes.

Infused vodkas that later infused me.

Infused vodkas that later infused me.

Cocktails are serious…and there’s a choice of house-infused vodkas at the bar: pineapple, ginger, cranberry, pepper. A bit of an issue with the wine list…but it’s an issue with every wine list we’ve seen in every restaurant we’ve been to in P-Town. Looks like one distributor has all the rights to wine in this town, so the lists are the same from place to place. Kinda sucks.

THE PROVINCETOWN INN

The view of town outside our room

The view of town outside our room

 

This is an old resort that has taken a beating over the years. The rooms aren’t fancy, but they are clean. And you absolutely cannot beat the location and the views: right at the end of Commercial Street and right on the water! Considering this is a town where you don’t come to stay indoors a lot, the rooms are perfectly fine. We stayed in the Captains Suite A, which had a full kitchen, and though we didn’t cook meals here, it was nice to hard boil an egg in the morning and keep our snacks in a full-sized refrigerator. They have a private beach (nothing fancy) and a swimming pool (very nice.)

 

 SURF CLUB RESTAURANT AND BAR

One look at the place and you know this is no fancy dining establishment. But the cocktails are strong and the food is fresh. It’s right on MacMillan wharf, so you can grab a bite, like we did, right after your whale watch trip. Great kids’ menu. I had the broiled seafood platter and it was a fresh as it could be.

 

DOLPHIN WHALE WATCH

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A fleet of beautifully maintained boats with professional crews and expert naturalists to narrate your trip. Indoor areas with snacks as well as plenty of seats out in the sunshine, and great views from anywhere on the boat. I’m sure the boats get crowded in season, but we went before the season really kicked in and had a great time. We saw 12 humpback whales over the course of 3 hours…some very close to the boat! There are other whale watch companies out of the Cape, but this is the one to go with. Highly recommended. http://www.whalewatch.com

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RACE POINT BEACH, HERRING COVE BEACH

Huge expanses of sand. Beautiful dunes. You can spot whales out in the distance.Two great beaches that shouldn’t be missed. In season, they do charge a $15 parking fee.

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