There are few dishes as good as the tuna tataki in sesame crust, a straightforward and quick dish to prepare.
What can go wrong in this recipe?
If you do not follow certain precautions and overcook the tuna, it gets hard as hell, losing all its appeal and nuanced flavors.
Tataki is a typical Japanese recipe and consists in cooking a fillet of fish (or meat) very quickly on the plate (or in a pan) and then seasoning it with soy sauce and ginger, which is pounded and chopped until it reaches the consistency of a paste. Contrary to what many think, the word tataki た た き (shredded) refers to ginger reduced to a paste and not the cooking method.
It is said that tataki was invented in 1800 by a wandering samurai, Sakamoto Ryōma, inspired by a group of Europeans who roasted fish on the grill: the meeting of Japanese cuisine with the European grill in the face of globalization.
Story aside, the key to making a perfect tuna fillet is the sesame crust. Toast the sesame with the soy sauce first, and brush the tuna with mustard to make the sesame stick better. The cooking of the fillet is just a sear, the final touch to seal the crust. This tataki recipe is, in our opinion, the best we have found and comes from a Japanese cookbook that every enthusiast should keep in the pride of their cooking library.
Harumi Kurihara’s Japanese home cooking is not just a wonderful Japanese cookbook, it is an insight into everyday life and what Japanese people really eat. So if you want to discover the genuine cuisine of Japan, the ingredients, the bases, broths, and sauces, this is the definitive manual, where you won’t find even a piece of sushi! But now, let’s get ready: here’s how to turn a simple tuna fillet into a delicious dish.
Ingredients to prepare the tuna fillet with sesame (tuna tataki)
- 500 grams of tuna fillet
- 5 grams of peppercorns
- 200 ml of soy sauce
- 35 grams of extra virgin olive oil
- 100 grams of sesame seeds
- 60 grams of brown sugar
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon of vinegar
- 10 grams of chopped ginger
- 20 grams of miso
Preparation of the tuna fillet with sesame
Mash the garlic and ginger, add the soy sauce, then season with brown sugar, 10 grams of miso, olive oil, and a drizzle of vinegar. Stir, dip the tuna in, and leave it to marinate for 15 minutes. Put the peppercorns and aromatic herbs in the pestle and pound gently.
Remove the tuna from the marinade. Toast the sesame seeds in a pan, season with soy sauce and pepper, then put them on a plate. Brush the tuna fillet with the remaining miso and cover it with the toasted sesame seeds.
Press well to make the sesame adhere to the fillet, then cook it on the hot plate, with a drizzle of oil, for 2 minutes on each side, until it is caramelized outside and quite raw inside.
When cooked, cut the tuna into slices that are not too thin, and put it in the soy sauce. Prepare a green salad or finely chopped cabbage, slice the tuna fillet, arrange it in a fan shape, and season with a drizzle of oil for a minimal but very Zen presentation.
Add a few boiled eggs and a couple of cherry tomatoes for a different tuna tataki salad than usual.
To change for the next few times, place the tuna on the plate and decorate with flakes of almonds and chopped chives.
Tips for a perfect sesame-crusted tuna fillet
Use only very fresh tuna: the inside must be practically raw. The dish is quite simple. As the only precaution, try not to overcook the tuna, otherwise, it becomes stringy. You can cut the tuna into bite-sized pieces for a different presentation and then wrap them in the sliced aubergines.
Which wine to pair with sesame-crusted tuna fillet?
Tuna contradicts one of the old myths about wine: never combine red wine with fish. The pairing presents no problems. In the dish, we have savory flavors, which you can balance with freshness, roundness, and fruit. We avoid too alcoholic and tannic wines that do not like salt and not even wines with intense smokiness. Choose a medium-bodied, slightly spiced wine. The Dornach Pinot Noir, with its velvety tannins and mellow ethereal hints, is the ideal wine for tuna tataki with sesame.
But don’t forget that the slightly ferrous taste of tuna also invites you to uncork rosé wines, with which it finds a remarkable harmony: a Cerasuolo di Vittoria, an Aleatico Rosato dell’Elba, a rosé DOC Squinzano, based on Negroamaro, but not even a good Lambrusco di Sorbara with its appetizing bubbles will disappoint you.
If you want to combine a cocktail, the refined presence of the Dry Martini cocktail will be a comfort.