It's 8pm. A well-intentioned husband goes hunting at the local co-op and brings back sustainably fished albacore tuna, which you are pretty sure you don't like, but have resolved not to mention aloud. You have on hand some rice, assorted condiments, a head of garlic. And asparagus, because apparently Sacramento is convinced that it's spring. Really, life could be worse. But what do you do with the tuna?
*This, it turns out, is DELICIOUS.**
**Which means I was completely wrong about not liking tuna.***
***Unless you consider the fact that no restaurant at which I had tried tuna (and I had tried it numerous times) ever did anything like this to it.****
****But then you have to wonder: Why wouldn't you do this to tuna?*****
*****Have I mentioned before my inordinate fondness for footnotes?
Black Forbidden rice, cooked with a little sauteed onion (or sub brown rice)
10-11 oz. (about .6 lbs) thick-cut, sushi-grade albacore tuna
1/2 bunch thin asparagus or a little more, tough ends trimmed, cut at a diagonal into 1" pieces (or sub young green beans)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Black sesame seeds
Freshy ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tsp julienned fresh ginger
Take the tuna out of the fridge to temper. Sprinkle with salt, grind black pepper liberally over the top, and cover densely with sesame seeds.
Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil in a small dish. Heat a glug of olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium to medium-high heat. When hot, add the asparagus and toss to coat lightly with the oil. Cook for several minutes, tossing or stirring every 2 minutes or so, until lightly browned on at least one side and al dente (a fork should insert smoothly, without it feeling either crunchy and raw or mushy and overly soft). Add the soy sauce mixture, stir immediately, and then turn the heat off as it simmers and begins to evaporate. Let simmer for another 10 seconds or so, then decant the asparagus and sauce into a bowl and set aside. Wipe the pan out lightly (and carefully) with a paper towel if there are drops of soy sauce remaining.
Add a glug of olive oil to the pan and turn the heat back on to medium. Add the smashed garlic clove and cook for a minute or so, pressing it into the pan, until it just begins to soften. Add the ginger, stir once or twice, then add the tuna. Cook for a couple minutes per side or until it browns, then flip. As the ginger begins to turn golden, you can fish it out of the pan and either put it on top of the fish or add it to the bowl of asparagus.
When the tuna is browned on the outside but still completely rare in the middle (or about two minutes away from being however cooked you want it), remove from the pan and place on a cutting board. Let sit for a minute. Meanwhile, add the asparagus to the pan to reheat for a minute, stirring, then turn the heat off.
Slice the albacore into half-inch pieces. Serve over a bed of rice (it will warm through from the heat of the rice, which is why you want to stop cooking it a bit early) and spoon the asparagus and sauce over the top. Serve immediately.
Serves 2. Pairs well with an ice cold cup of Onigoroshi sake, available at the Tokyo Fish Market in Berkeley, among other places.