Ahi Tacos

15 06 2008

Ahhh….ahi….my summer friend!  I could eat ice cold ahi with wasabi & soy sauce anywhere, anytime.  And tonight I promised The Hubster (beloved of my life) Ahi Tacos.  He may not be a biological father, but he’s a Dad and get’s “the other guy’s” phone call on the appointed day (he rates…Mom didn’t get a call on her appointed day – go figure).  Our needs are few…a good grade of ahi, cracked pepper (color of your choice, we use a 4 blend), and any dressing you choose.  Ours is 3 Tbs. mayo, 1-2 Tbs. toasted sesame oil, 1 tsp. soy and about the same amount of Siracha, and another 2-3 Tbs. of peanut or other salad oil. Whisk, whisk, whisk, emulsify…. What you want is a smoky flavored, creamy sauce with a hearty nip – not so much a bite as a nip.  Kind of a latent….gotcha!  You’ll also want some nice tasty greens…green onions, cilantro, frisee, alfalfa sprouts…anything with a nice green crunch.  Oh wait…the “taco” shell…we like flat breads…and prefer the mexican gordita type flour tortillas.  I’ve used Naan, and it works, just has a slightly different flavor.

Heat a nonstick skillet to high…you want to sear the ahi almost immediately.  We aren’t cooking it as much as toasting the peppercorns for their flavor.  So, pepper the ahi liberally on both sides.  Pop it into the skillet and sear it quickly; turn and sear the other side, then remove it from the pan.  Slice in 1/8 inch slices.

Heat the flat bread just until it’s nicely pliable; smear a spoonful of the dressing down the center; pile on the thinly sliced ahi, add veggies, drizzle on some extra dressing and you’re good to go!  Here’s what the end result looks like…

Ahi Tacos

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I’ve had a yen for sushi…

15 06 2008

And I’m not afraid to tackle sushi at home. Sorry I don’t have pictures of our hand rolls, but maybe next time.

Yes, I actually took a sushi class through the local community college. Not Sushi 101…actually it was Sushi 201 – Advanced sushi.  That’s where you pretty much already know you like sushi, know how to do your rice, know about nori and all that other fun stuff like wasabi, cuts of fish, etc.  This was a hands-on class, and worth every penny! It was actually held in the instructor’s home.  He covered two long tables with foil, supplied bamboo mats and ingredients, and we were off and rollin’!  He focused on how to clean a tin of unagi (fresh water eel); where to get sushi grade fish (in my area that’s S & S Produce or the meat counter at Raleys on East Ave., both in Chico), which rice to buy (short grain #1 fancy works reliably), and then we got creative.  We all liked inside out tempura rolls…and so…we created! It was really a wonderful way to kill a morning, plus…all my cooking went home with me.  No homework from this class!  Actually…a friend and I took the class and we mixed and traded our best so we each had a tasty tray to take home.

Anyway…when temps soar, there’s nothing better than cold food for supper.  And so…drum roll please…enter the hand roll.  This time we scored some fabulous looking ahi from S & S.  I got 2 steaks…one for sushi and one for Ahi Tacos (tonight…pictures will happen).  When I started slicing the tuna, it was actually sashimi grade, so I made some nigiri sushi and then hand rolls from the more sinewy parts.  I diced the tuna, mixed it with green onion tops, mayonnaise and siracha, with a couple of drops of sesame oil added for good measure…kind of a spicy tuna mix.  I set up the hand rolls with rice as the base, a swipe of wasabi, a half strip of cooked bacon, tuna, and more green onion tops…roll it up, roll it up, roll it up (sorry…poor imitation of Martin Yan…wrong cuisine too, darn it!)!  Presto! One hand roll all nicely done and ready to chomp on.

The only bad parts about making sushi for dinner are 1) you either have to decide to eat soggy sushi, or you have to be away from the table intermittently;  2) you sometimes get stuck in the kitchen or the prep area and not get to eat while orders get flashed your way.

I have a dream of hosting a hand roll party.  Kind of like the guy held the class…  Tables covered so water won’t be a problem…rolls of paper towels at the ready…small bowls of water set out to keep the rice from sticking…a big bowl of communal rice in the middle…ingredients all over the table…ice cold shrimp, crab meat, unagi (trust me…clean one lousy can and this is the only way you’ll do unagi!), other fish as in season…plus condiments…green onions, cucumbers, bacon, mushrooms…

Hey…did you know that even if you don’t like or can’t abide the idea of eating RAW fish, there are ways around that for you???  You can always eat shrimp – unless they specify RAW, it will always be cooked first, same with crab, same with octopus, NOT however, squid.  And then there are still alternatives…BBQ pork, teriyaki chicken, grilled portobella mushrooms… Trust me, even a BLT hand roll is pretty darn tasty.

Yummmm…..Ahi tacos tonight!  Yes, it will still be sushi-ish.  But more on that later!  I don’t want to spoil anything for you!