17 April 2014

It's time for the Improv Challenge!

The premise of the Improv Challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.

This month's assigned ingredients are not really ingredients, technically.  More like a theme: ebony and ivory.  Interesting!  I did a bit of searching, mostly on Pinterest, and found lots of yummy desserts with a dark chocolate layer and some kind of white layer (either white chocolate or vanilla).  They all looked delicious, but you know me, I wanted something more "outside the box".  I found a black and white cocktail I thought about trying, but then I realized it was made with Kahlua, which I don't like, and half-and-half, which I can't drink because I'm lactose intolerant.  So that was out.  I kept searching and eventually stumbled upon something genius.  A recipe from McCormick seasonings for Black and White Encrusted Tuna Steaks.  Tuna steaks!  Yum!  And I happened to have both black and white sesame seeds in my pantry already.  (The white are a pantry staple and I bought the black last fall for my Ginger Sesame Grilled Chicken Salad.)  I had not bought tuna steaks in years, because they are so expensive and way out of my grocery budget.  But I love them and order them at restaurants when I have the opportunity.  I was so excited to find some Ahi Tuna Steaks in the frozen section at Sam's recently.  They were very reasonably priced, much more so than their fresh counterparts, so I just had to try them.  The McCormick recipe included a wasabi aoli, but I don't care for wasabi, so I found a yummy peanut dipping sauce instead.  It's slightly adapted from For the Love of Cooking.

Black and White Sesame Encrusted Tuna

¼ cup sesame or olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp powdered ginger
4 (5 oz.) ahi tuna steaks
2 tbsp black sesame seeds
2 tbsp white sesame seeds
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Pour oil, soy sauce, garlic powder and ginger in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Mush the bag to thoroughly mix.  Place tuna steaks in bag and close it up, removing as much air as possible.  Place bag in refrigerator and marinate for an hour.  Remove from refrigerator at least 15 minutes before ready to cook.

Mix sesame seeds and salt on large plate. Remove tuna from marinade. Discard any remaining marinade. Coat tuna steaks on both sides with sesame seed mixture, pressing firmly so the mixture adheres to the tuna.  Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add tuna; cook 5 minutes on each side or until desired doneness.

Slice tuna and serve with peanut dipping sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Peanut Dipping Sauce

¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp rice vinegar
¼ tsp garlic powder
2 tsp sesame or olive oil
¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Combine the soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, rice vinegar, garlic powder, oil, and red pepper flakes together in a bowl. Whisk until well combined. Set aside for 10-15 minutes before using to allow the flavors to combine.  Whisk again right before serving.  Store remaining sauce in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Makes about ¾ cup.

Note: These recipes are gluten-free provided your soy sauce is gluten-free.

Oh my goodness, this was amazing!  I served it with Ginger Scallion Noodles and Roasted Asparagus.  I had been looking forward to that meal all day and it did not disappoint!  

I cooked my tuna very lightly, keeping it nice and pink in the middle.  It was a little underdone for my husband, so he nuked his a little bit.  It will definitely still be great if you cook it through more than I did.  Usually you have to worry about it drying out, but the marinade makes sure that won't happen.  So cook it as thoroughly as you like.  Even as rare as it was, my six-year-old gobbled hers up without complaint.  My three-year-old took one bite, said she liked it, but then didn't eat any more of it.  

Both of these recipes, the tuna marinade and the peanut sauce, called for sesame oil, but I have found that I don't like it. It tastes like burnt plastic to me.  So I always use olive oil instead.  But if you like cooking with sesame oil, then definitely use that for even more sesame flavor.

I am definitely going to stock up on this tuna the next time I go to Sam's so I can make this all the time!

Check out the other "ebony and ivory" dishes below and come back next month to see what I make with lemon and lime.


    An InLinkz Link-up

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  1. GENIUS! Now to find those steaks @ Sam's...
    (of course, I decided to go the b&w cocktail route... ;) )

  2. I am always excited to see what you are going to do each month. You never disappoint with your "out of the box" recipes. This one is wonderful!

  3. I haven't been on your blog in a little while. This recipe sounds amazing!! I love cabbage when cooked with meat and veggies. Do you think it would work to make these a few hours ahead of time (I'm thinking of nap time) and refrigerate, and then just let them come up to temp for a bit before baking?

  4. Yeah, actually the original recipe called for letting them rise a second time after filling, so I'm sure that would be fine. Hope you like them!