Seared Ahi Tuna Salad with Pickled Cucumbers in a Soy-Ginger Vinaigrette

Even people who do not like Ahi sashimi, like this salad. The Asian influence of ginger, cilantro, sesame oil and soy sauce makes a refreshing, light salad; perfect for a luncheon entrée or first course dinner.

I normally serve this salad as a dinner entrée with brown rice and green beans but it works wonderfully as a first course.  I sear the tuna then chill it for easy slicing.  Plating each individual salad creates a composed salad that allows you to  control each serving. Please see the post associated with this recipe, Day at the Beach and The Bitterroot International Dinner Series.

Serves 8

Ginger Vinaigrette

1 piece fresh ginger, 1 ½ inches long, peeled and grated
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
½ tablespoon crushed red pepper
¼ cup peanut oil
½ teaspoon sesame oil

The Tuna

1 large sashimi grade Ahi tuna steak, at least 1 pound, black part removed
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Cucumber Relish

½ cup rice wine vinegar
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 English cucumber, peeled, cut in half, seeded and sliced thin using a Chinese mandoline
1 shallot, sliced into thin ringlets using a Chinese mandoline
1 Serrano chili, thinly slice into rings
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro

Salad

6 cups mixed greens
8 radishes, thinly sliced on a Chinese mandoline
2 avocados, quartered then sliced 1/8 of an inch leaving the neck of the avocado intact, pressing down to create a fan
1 green onion, green part only, thinly sliced
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted in a 350 degree oven for 7 minutes (optional)

In a jar with a tight fitting lid add the ginger, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, red pepper, peanut oil and sesame oil.  Shake until emulsified

Rub the Ahi steak with 2 teaspoons of oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Press to adhere the seed to the Ahi.  Heat a small sauté pan over high heat then add oil.  When simmering add tuna steak and cook the Ahi for 1 minute, turn over and cook for an additional 1  minute.  Transfer onto plate and refrigerate until cold (can be done earlier in the day).  Slice the tuna thinly and marinate with a few tablespoons of the dressing.

For the cucumbers, in a small saucepan bring the vinegar, sugar and water to a boil, stir to dissolve the sugar.  Meanwhile place the cucumbers, shallots and Serrano chili in a bowl just large enough to hold them.  Pour hot sugar water over cucumbers and push them into the liquid (they will soon be floating with more liquid than cucumber).  Place in the refrigerator until cool, about 1 hour.  When ready to use drain and add cilantro.  This also can be made ahead.

For the greens,  place them in a large bowl and dress them lightly by pouring a bit of dressing along the sides of the bowl and using your hands, toss the leaves to coat with the dressing.  Start with only a quarter cup of dressing and taste to see if you need more.  You are just lightly favoring the leaves.  You will not need all the dressing but the leftovers will keep in your refrigerator for a month.

For the presentation, place ¼ of the avocado on the plate with the fan close to the lip of the plate and the stem end in the middle of the plate.   Mound approximately 1 cup of salad in the middle of a plate.  Lightly dress the radishes and scatter around and on the greens.   Place slices of tuna decoratively onto the lettuce.  Top with a mound of pickled cucumbers.  Sprinkle each salad with toasted almonds if desired.

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