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Spicy Grilled Tuna with Heirloom Tomato Salsa - Rick Bayless

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Joined: Dec 19, 2005


Posted to Thread #11509 at 9:41 pm on Jul 27, 2008


One of Chicago's most popular chefs- Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo-- shows you how to turn up the heat with great Mexican cooking.


8 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (roughly 2 serranos or 4 jalapeños), stemmed
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
Six 5- to 6-ounce fresh tuna steaks or other meaty skinless fish fillets like snapper, grouper, wahoo, marlin or salmon, about ¾ inch thick
2 cups chopped (1/4 inch dice) heirloom tomatoes-use what you can find, but think about a variety of colors and flavors, from black prince, to green zebra, to sun gold to brandy wine (you'll need about 1 ½ pounds)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs-the intensity of the herb(s) you choose will dictate quantity (cilantro is predictably delicious, a touch of mint is springy, a little lemon thyme or lemon balm or lemon verbena adds sunshine, and basil, well, who doesn't like basil?), plus sprigs for garnish
Olive or vegetable oil for the fish


1. The marinade/flavoring: In a small ungreased skillet, roast the unpeeled garlic and the chiles over medium heat, turning occasionally, until both are soft (the skins of both will have blackened in spots, which is okay as long as the flesh doesn't burn), 5 to 10 minutes for the chiles, 15 minutes for the garlic. Cool, then peel the garlic. Place both garlic and chiles in a food processor or blender along with the lime juice. Run the machine until the mixture is as smoothly pureed as possible. Season highly with salt, usually about ¾ teaspoon.

2. Marinating the tuna: Into a large non-aluminum dish scoop 2/3 of the marinade. Lay the fish in the marinade and smear the mixture on all side of each piece. Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the salsa.

3. The salsa: Scrape the remaining 1/3 of the marinade into a medium-size bowl. Mix in the chopped tomatoes. Scoop the onion into a small strainer, rinse under cold water, shake off the excess and add to the tomatoes. Stir in the herbs. Taste and season with additional salt, usually about ½ teaspoon.

4. Grilling the fish: Heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire and let it burn until the coals are covered with white ash and still quite hot (the fire will feel almost intolerably hot when a hand is held 4 or 5 inches above the grill grates for 5 seconds).

Remove the fish from the marinade, brush or spray with a generous coating of oil and lay the fish on the hot grill. Cover the grill and cook 3 minutes. Uncover, flip the fish over, cover once again and cook until the fish is as done as you like-1 to 2 minutes is all that's needed for medium-rare tuna (my preference).

Transfer the fish to dinner plates, spoon on the beautiful salsa, decorate with herb sprigs and you're ready to eat.

Working Ahead: There is little in this recipe that can be done in advance-except the marinade, which will hold for a day or so in the refrigerator if well wrapped. If the fish spends more than three or four hours with that limey marinade it will get pickled. Beautiful tomatoes with salt and lime on them also begin to wilt after an hour or two.

Serves 6

From Rick Bayless

A balanced diet is equal parts of milk and dark chocolate.

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