Grilled Fish as Good as Steak
Grilled Tuna with Tomato-Mint Vinaigrette Recipe by Wolfgang Puck
Wolfgang Puck Recipes - Recipes from Wolfgang Puck's Kitchen
By Wolfgang Puck, Tribune Media Services
We're beginning to reach that point in summer when I regularly start telling people they ought to be grilling fish. As the days get hotter, it sometimes seems as if big burgers, hot dogs, and steaks take too long to cook for anyone to stand over a backyard inferno; and red meat, or even chicken, often feels just too heavy to digest at night when the temperatures hover around a hundred.
Fish fillets are another matter. With flesh less dense than meat or poultry, they cook quickly, especially when you observe the smart contemporary trend towards slightly undercooking fish so it stays deliciously moist at the center. Fish also sits so much more lightly on the stomach, not to mention the fact that it's a healthier, lower-fat, lower-calorie main-course choice at a time when many of us still worry about how we look in our swimsuits.
And meat lovers need not feel like they're missing out when fish stars on the menu. That's especially true with tuna. Whichever you choose, (yellowfin ahi from the Atlantic or bigeye ahi from Hawaii), you'll get fish that's sufficiently meaty and flavorful to satisfy carnivorous cravings.
Shop for fresh tuna at well-stocked supermarkets or specialty seafood shops that sell sustainable product and have a good reputation for quality and frequent product turnover. Look for fillets with a clean, bright, moist appearance and absolutely no fishy smell; they should only have the clean scent of a fresh ocean breeze.
With fresh fish that good, you really don't need to do too much. I like to marinate the fillets briefly with good, fruity olive oil and fresh herbs, then serve it on top of a simple vinaigrette sauce made from more olive oil and herbs, a little citrus juice and vinegar, and some sweet vine-ripened tomatoes.
When cooking fresh tuna, again, remember not to overcook it. Fortunately, I don't have to emphasize or explain that warning as much nowadays, thanks to the popularity of Japanese sushi. In fact, many cooks like to highlight the rosy underdone interior of the tuna by serving it sliced.
If you'd like to do that with my recipe, use a little trick I've discovered to ensure that the cooked fish slices neatly, without falling apart. With a sharp knife, score the raw fillets where you intend to slice them, cutting about 1/4 inch deep at intervals about 1/3 inch apart. After cooking, the fish will slice easily when you cut along the score marks. Then, place the slices overlapping on top of the sauce, and sit down to a meal that lets you and your family and friends taste summer at its fullest.
Grilled Tuna with Tomato-Mint Vinaigrette Recipe by Wolfgang Puck
1-1/2 pounds fresh tuna fillet, preferably ahi tuna from the Atlantic Ocean or Hawaii, cut into 4 equal pieces
Freshly ground white pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or basil leaves, plus 4 sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 ripe Roma (plum) tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon good-quality red or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 medium shallots, minced
Grilled Tuna with Tomato-Mint Vinaigrette Recipe Preparation
Sprinkle the tuna fillets all over with white pepper. In a shallow bowl or dish large enough to hold the tuna pieces side by side, stir together 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the mint or basil. Turn the tuna pieces in the oil and herbs to coat them. Leave them in the bowl or dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice cubes and water and put it on the counter near the saucepan.
Meanwhile, use a small, sharp knife to core the stem ends of the tomatoes and to score a shallow X on the opposite end of each tomato. When the water boils, use a slotted spoon to lower the tomatoes into the saucepan. Boil just until the tomatoes' skins begin to wrinkle, about 30 seconds. With the slotted spoon, lift the tomatoes out of the water and transfer them to the ice water. Drop the garlic cloves into the pan of boiling water and boil them for about 2 minutes; then, with the slotted spoon, transfer them to the ice water to cool.
When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off their skins. Cut each tomato in half. Use your fingertip or the handle of a teaspoon to scoop out and discard their seeds. With a small, sharp knife, cut the tomatoes into 1/4-inch dice. Set aside.
Drain the garlic cloves and pat them dry. With a small, sharp knife, cut them lengthwise into thin slices; then, stack the slices and cut lengthwise into thin julienne strips. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes and garlic with the remaining mint or basil, olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, parsley, and shallots. Toss well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until about 30 minutes before cooking time.
Preheat an outdoor grill. Meanwhile, remove the tuna and the tomato mixture from the refrigerator and leave them at room temperature until the grill is ready for cooking.
Lightly sprinkle the tuna pieces all over with salt. Grill the tuna about 4 minutes per side until medium rare, testing by cutting into the center of one piece. (If the tuna fillet is very thin, grill it on one side only.)
To serve, spoon the tomato mixture into the centers of 4 serving plates, spreading it evenly. Transfer the tuna pieces to the plates, centering them on top of the tomatoes. Serve immediately.
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You know a recipe you've cooked is a classic when people remember it and crave it years, or even decades, after they first ate it. That's what happened with me recently when an old friend, a business mogul who had lived in London for many years and just moved back to California, stopped by for dinner at Spago in Beverly Hills.
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Wolfgang Puck's Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck
The world-renowned chef with an extraordinary passion for food now shares that passion in Wolfgang
Puck's Kitchen. Puck makes great cooking easier than you ever imagined. He reveals how to turn common ingredients into uncommon masterpieces. Each feature includes both an expert tip and an easy recipe-exactly what you need to transform your home cooking from acceptable to delectable. Moves with color photos.
About Wolfgang Puck
Wolfgang Puck, in the eyes of food lovers and experts alike, is one of the most famous chefs in America and arguably the world. He has spawned a culinary empire that includes a fine dining group of 12 internationally acclaimed restaurants in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Las Vegas, Chicago, San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Maui; an extensive catering & events business with bases in Hollywood and Chicago, famed as official caterer to the Governors Ball following the Oscars; as well as Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc., a corporation that controls, licenses, and franchises the Wolfgang Puck brand in a wide variety of business activities, including casual Wolfgang Puck Cafes, fast-casual Wolfgang Puck Expresses, consumer packaged foods, cookware, book publishing, television, and the Internet.
For the first time, Puck shares his expert, easy-to-master approach to cooking in the newspaper arena through WOLFGANG PUCK?S KITCHEN, a newspaper column syndicated by Tribune Media Services.
The Austrian-born Puck began his formal training at age 14, inspired by his mother, Maria, a hotel chef. He left Europe for America in 1973 at the age of 24, having already worked in the master kitchens of three-star French restaurants. In 1975, Puck moved to Los Angeles, and soon was both chef and part-owner of Ma Maison. It quickly became a magnet for the rich and famous, with Puck as star attraction. Since then, he has changed the way Americans cook and eat by fusing formal French techniques and Asian and California influenced esthetics with the highest quality ingredients.
After the 1981 publication of the first of his five cookbooks, Puck, in partnership with designer Barbara Lazaroff, opened Spago. Located in West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip, it was an instant success and culinary phenomenon from its opening day in 1982. Although the original location closed in 2000, three years after the successful opening of Spago Beverly Hills, Spago Hollywood today is remembered internationally as a legendary haven for entertainment, political and social luminaries.
In 2000, Puck developed his own "Wolfgang Puck" television show, which began airing on the Food Network in January 2001. The show features Puck sharing his cooking expertise with a studio audience who joins him in his kitchen, along with field documentary segments in which he explores the vast and diverse world of food, from farms to artisan workshops to restaurants, and visits with such luminaries as Julia Child, Robert Mondavi and Paul Bocuse. "Wolfgang Puck" was awarded a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Service Show in 2002.
Puck also appears regularly on ABC's "Good Morning America," sharing his latest creations. He has been a guest on a multitude of other shows, including "The Late Show with David Letterman," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Entertainment Tonight," "ABC News with Peter Jennings," "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher," "Frasier," and "The Simpsons." In 2001, the A&E Network featured Puck's life on its popular "Biography" series.
Puck and partner Barbara Lazaroff are actively involved in many philanthropic endeavors and charitable organizations, including their own Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation, established in 1982, which supports the annual American Wine & Food Festival to benefit Meals-on-Wheels.
Puck lives in Beverly Hills. He and Barbara Lazaroff have two sons, Cameron and Byron.
(c) 2008 WOLFGANG PUCK WORLDWIDE, INC. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
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