One of the tough things about Summer is that it can be difficult to keep an appetite in the blazing heat. This salad is wonderful on a hot summer night because it’s cool and refreshing with bright flavors and contrasting textures. The bean threads are cooked just enough to soften them, but then chilled in ice water and sauced with the salad dressing. The bean threads are silky, the cucumbers crunchy, the ahi smooth as satin and the romaine crisp and clean.
There’s no major secret to this dish. Soften 2 oz. of bean threads in hot water for 15 minutes while you gather your ingredients. Chop your favorite greens and goodies for your salad. I chose romaine lettuce, English cucumbers, spring onions, canned baby corn (rinsed and tossed with the salad dressing) and tomatoes in addition to the tuna steak and the bean threads. It was plenty for two of us.
Once the bean threads were pliable, I put them in a small, non-stick skillet with a little water and salad dressing. I cooked them over low heat until they bubbled and became translucent and slippery. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. When cooled, drain thoroughly and mix with salad dressing and baby corn. Chill (I popped it into the freezer for the 8-10 minutes).
I used a grill pan to cook the ahi. I put the pan over a medium high flame while I prepared the tuna steak. I rinsed and dried the steak. I prepared a sheet of waxed paper with fresh cracked pepper and “Laab-Namtok” sprinkled on it. Laab-Namtok contains roasted rice powder, dried chilies, citric acid, MSG, salt and spice…and the package claims it contains no preservatives. I think something got lost in translation. Regardless…Laab has a really unique flavor and made a really nice crust with the pepper! I pressed the tuna steak onto the seasoned waxed paper and pressed the seasoning into the fish a bit more. Then I rubbed a bit of peanut oil onto the uppermost surface of the fish before I placed it down onto the grill pan. Once the fish was in the pan, I rubbed oil into the side of the fish that was now facing up. Use a fish spatula when turning, and turn after only a few minutes as you only want to sear the surface nicely, not cook the fish. While the fish is cooking, dress your salad and plate it. When the ahi is done, carve it, paying attention to the grain and cut it as though for sushi for the nicest bites.
To garnish the salad, I drizzled the tuna with a bit of the salad dressing – a Sesame based dressing I bought somewhere along the line – and sprinkled the salad with spring onion tops and black sesame seeds.
I’ll tell you…I served this on a night when neither of us had the energy to spit, but we both needed to eat, and although I’d planned that tuna to be sushi, it just wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t have the energy to wait for the rice to cook, cool properly, and do all the odds and ends that went with a sushi night. When I got into the kitchen, the possibility of a salad really popped! We both inhaled the entire thing. It was light, and easy on the system on a hot night. While a glass of white wine may have been a really nice accompaniment, iced tea certainly way!