Friday, February 8, 2008
Dukkah (ground seasoned nuts) and Nut-Encrusted Tuna Steaks
Tonight's dinner, as Dan said, was "so good it would make Gordon Ramsay's bollocks tingle". After an exhausting trip to Chicago, eating overpriced and unwholesome food, I needed something to cleanse my body and soul. Something a bit fancy for Friday night, and a way to exercise my cooking muscles.
An earlier meander through Wikipedia brought me to "dukkah", an Egyptian condiment made of ground, roasted, seasoned nuts. I directed Dan to pick up whatever kind of fish looked delicious and he got some amazing ahi tuna steaks from Byerly's. Inspiration! I decided to combine the two.
First I marinated the tuna in a simple combination of:
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves crushed garlic
salt and pepper
dash of pomegranate molasses (you could use soy sauce + sugar)
Meanwhile I made the dukkah:
1/2 c. nuts
2 Tbsp. raw sesame seeds
1 tsp. each whole cumin, corriander, fennel
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried mint
1 tsp. salt
The recipe called for hazelnuts, which would be great if you have some (pistachios would be too). I used a combo of almonds and pecans, which turned out nicely. First roast the nuts in a dry skillet. Then roast the whole spices. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until they're a fine meal (but don't let them turn to paste). This makes enough for a meal, but it's a good idea to increase it and make extra to store (best stored in the fridge)
Remove the fish from their marinade, allowing any extra to drip off. Press the dukkah onto the fish. About 15 minutes before you're ready to eat, heat up a fry-pan to very hot (but not extremely hot) with a good amount of safflower oil in it. Fry the fish on each side for just a couple of minutes, so that most of the inside is still pink. Remove the fish to a cutting board and allow it to sit for 3-4 minutes to finish cooking. I like my ahi to be pink inside, but not translucent and cold--about 'medium', so I remove it when it's still a little underdone.
Slice onto a nice platter and sprinkle with parsley. I had some extra dukkah on the fish plate, so I roasted it in the pan and sprinkled it over as well.
I served this with vermicelli rice and slivered collard greens, which made a nice combo. The dukkah almost overwhelmed the fish, but not quite. I'm sure the fish would have been good with just salt and pepper, but I wanted to challenge myself to walk the fine line between just enough and too much. Overall I'm quite proud of the meal and it was exactly what I craved.
I look forward to trying the dukkah as it's traditionally eaten: with warm flatbread dipped in olive oil and then the dukkah. Alex: do they have this in Syria?