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Pan-seared ahi tuna with wasabi cream
(serves four)

I developed this recipe to emulate a dish I had once at Legal Seafood in Boston. This is a great recipe for dinner parties -- flashy, delicious, and super fast and easy to make. The recipe is for an appetizer portion, but you can easily double it for a dinner portion. The key is to do all the make-ahead parts first, because the actual cooking only takes about two minutes. You will coat the tuna with Cajun spice, then sear it so that only an 1/8th inch layer around the outside is cooked, while the inside is rare. Serve with an icy cold pinot grigio or with sake.

Mesclun salad mix or field greens, approximately one loose
cup for each serving
1 T powdered wasabi, available in the Asian section of your grocery or in specialty Asian markets.
4 T heavy cream
2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
2 t sesame seeds
6 T soy sauce
5 t sesame oil
2 T seasoned rice vinegar
Two ahi tuna steaks, 1 – 1 ½ inches thick. Most grocery store fish counters can get this if you ask ahead.
4 T powdered Cajun spice, such as Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic or McCormick’s Cajun Seasoning

Rinse the field greens, spin dry, and place on one side of four separate plates, leaving about one half of the plate clear. Slice the scallions thinly and set aside. Mix the wasabi and cream in a small bowl until smooth and set aside. Heat the sesame seeds in a small, nonstick pan, shaking constantly, until they turn golden brown (or black, if you want to get fancy). Put in small bowl and set aside. Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar in a small saucepan. Heat over lowest heat just until warm -- do not let it boil, as this will ruin the taste.

Cut the tuna across the width of the steak, with the grain, so that you have logs approximately 2 in. wide (you may wind up with a smaller triangle that is not for the showy dish but that can be cooked similarly). Set the logs on a plate and shake the Cajun spice onto the long sides (IMPORTANT: DO NOT press Cajun spice on the short ends, as this is what you will watch to determine cooking time), pressing into the tuna so that you get a nice, thick coating.

Heat a nonstick pan over high heat until hot. Brush the bottom with peanut oil. Using a spatula, lay the tuna logs in the pan. Sear them for one minute, watching the short, uncoated end to be sure they do not overcook. You want a thin white layer around the outside and a rare, red center. Note that the tuna will keep cooking a bit after you remove it from the pan, so err in the direction of caution. Carefully flip the logs to the other side and cook one minute.

Remove the logs to a clean plate or to a cutting board and slice crosswise in ¼-in- thick slices. Fan the slices over the field greens. Drizzle some of the soy mixture over the tuna and the field greens. On the empty part of the plate, make a pattern of dots or wavy lines with the wasabi cream. Sprinkle with the sliced scallions and sesame seeds for garnish. Serve with jasmine rice and steamed snow peas, on a separate plate, if you're doing dinner portions.

Variations: You can also coat the tuna with a mixture of regular and blackened sesame seeds. This may slow the cooking so watch carefully.

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