Happy 2021 everyone.  As most of us do, we have resolved to eat healthier and we do our best… for as long as we can handle it.  Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring and flavorless though.  Absolutely not.  This recipe is not short on flavor at all.  Even the rice, which is usually about as boring of a food as can be, is flavorful here.  I take it as a challenge to give you a recipe that actually makes you look forward to eating healthy! Enough build-up, let’s do some cooking! 

Ingredients:

For the tuna

  • 1 4-6 Oz ahi tuna steak
  • Juice of 4 oranges (You can use regular OJ for this, so about a ½ cup)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 tsp ponzu
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp honey

For the rice:

  • ½ cup brown rice
  • 1 ¼  cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper
  • Canola or grapeseed oil

First thing’s first, we have to make the marinade for the tuna.  Squeeze that juice out of the oranges (or pour it out of your carton). Grate the ginger with a microplane.  Grate a lot of it, too.  Add the ponzu, sesame oil, and honey.  Ponzu is just soy sauce with citrus flavor.  You can use regular soy sauce here if you don’t have ponzu. I put it all in a deli container, then put a lid on it and shake it to mix it.  Saves having to wash a whisk.  The fewer dishes I have to do the better, plus it’s a nice bit of extra exercise.  We are trying to be healthier in the New Year after all!  Drop the tuna steak in and marinate for NO MORE than 30 minutes.  Several reasons for this.  One: The acid in the OJ will cook it if you keep it in too long.  That’s Bad News bears.  Two: the marinade is also going to become a glaze so you don’t have to get too much flavor into the tuna.  This is more surface-level marinading. 

While that’s working its magic, let’s get that rice going. Mince your onions and garlic.  Put a pot on medium heat.  When it gets warm, add the oil.  Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and cook for about a minute, maybe less.  When you smell the garlic add the rice.  Cook that with the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes, until you see the rice turning a bit translucent.  When it gets there, add your stock and crank the heat to hellfire.  Let that come to a boil.  When it does, cover it, drop the heat like you’re making your own dubstep track, and let it go for 45 minutes.  HOWEVER, check it around the 30-minute mark.  Sometimes, smaller batches of rice take less time to cook. Also with brown rice, it’s usually a 2 ½ to 1 liquid to rice ratio unlike white rice, so that was not a typo above.  Also, remove the tuna from the marinade at 30 minutes as well.  

While the rice is cooking, zest and juice your limes and chop your cilantro.  When the rice is done, add your lime juice and zest along with the cilantro.  Mix and cover and let sit for a bit.  It won’t be that long, so don’t worry.

Now for the tuna.  Look, I know getting tuna can be expensive… but it doesn’t have to be.  A certain German-based grocery store in Middletown sells bags of 3 frozen sushi-grade Ahi tuna steaks for $6. While getting it fresh from a local seafood shop is ideal, this option works well.  Now, let’s cook the fish. If you can, though, go get it fresh from a local seafood market.  This is going to go fast.  

You want to be careful not to overcook this.  Timing is everything, and being even slightly off is going to result in overcooked tuna.    Put a non-stick skillet to medium-high heat.  When it’s hot, add a tablespoon of whatever oil you wish, except olive.    It will burn and be gross.  Canola, grapeseed, coconut are good options.  Anything with a high smoke point.  When the oil is hot, put the tuna in and cook for exactly 1 minute.  When that 60 seconds is done, and I mean exactly 60 seconds, flip it.  30 seconds into the second side cooking, dump a bunch of that marinade into the pan.  30 seconds later, remove the tuna.  Let the marinade reduce for a little bit more until it gets a consistency like light syrup.  How do you check this?  Take your wooden spoon, run it across the pan through the sauce.  If it leaves a tail and doesn’t come together immediately, you’re good.  Also, be sure not to burn this. The OJ and honey will caramelize. Pour over the tuna, slice it (or slice then pour your call), serve with the rice, and there you go!  Seared Orange-sesame-ginger ahi tuna with cilantro-lime rice.  A healthy, delicious meal to get your New Year started right! 

See you in February!

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Jay Flanders

Jay Flanders is a native of Newport and avid cook. While he studied at the University of Rhode Island, he also attended the College of Food Network via his television set where he learned the basics of cooking. Also being an all-too-avid eater at restaurants, he really began to learn what ingredients went together, cooking techniques and other tips and tricks in the kitchen. He used that knowledge to teach himself how to cook and how to start making his own recipes. Now, he’s here to give you his tips, tricks and sometimes uniquely tasty spins on recipes and to show you that great cooking can be done is the tiniest of kitchens like his.