Jerk Tuna with Mango Sauce

When I started thinking about tonight's dinner, I leafed through a few cookbooks and found one that appealed to me in Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way. The main course was boneless chicken breasts with a side dish made with corn and peas. I jotted down the ingredients I needed and headed to the market.

My first stop was Lansing's new City Market. It opened just after the new year, but the grand opening was held this past weekend. It was a zoo. All of the nearby parking lots were full and the building was claustrophobic. Still I had to get my chicken breasts and this was the place to get high quality meat at reasonable prices. I stopped at Otto's and got the breasts, then went in search of shallots and mushrooms and wondering if I could find frozen corn and peas there.

On the way, I got a loaf of fresh bread and figured I'd see what was available at the fish market. One look at the case and I changed my mind about Sunday's dinner. He had the best looking tuna I've seen in a long time. Red, juicy, and fresh. So I asked him for two 6 or 7 oz slices. They came out closer to 8 oz each but who cares? Since they were on sale because of the grand opening, I had a couple of luscious tuna steaks for under $10.00. All that remained was finding a decent recipe.

At first I thought about grilling them. It's very nearly grilling season here in central Michigan (but then, isn't every season grilling season?) and there's nothing quite as good as high-quality tuna off the grill. But it's been a wet weekend and standing in a cold drizzle wasn't very appealing.

So I pulled one of my favorite fish cookbooks, Fish Without a Doubt by Rick Moonen and Roy Finamore, off the shelf and had a look. I found a few tuna recipes but it was this one that called to me. It was the mango - jerk seasoning that did it for me. A spicy dish, cooled by the mango sauce sounded just about perfect.

The jerk seasoning I used comes from World Market, a chain of stores with an outlet not too far away. After going with the amounts in the recipe, I would definitely add more next time, probably doubling the amount on each piece of fish. There just wasn't enough contrast with the mango sauce.

I'd also cook the fish just a little bit longer. I'm a big fan of eating tuna rare, and you can see that these are quite rare. But they were too cool at the center and a little more heat would have been good.

The mango sauce was great, and we had a side dish of jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk, with grated carrots. Cooking rice in coconut milk is always a treat. Add in one of my favorite vegetables and you have a great side dish.

A little more spice from the jerk seasoning on the tuna, and it would have gone from a very good dinner to an exceptional one.

For the Mango Sauce
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted & chopped
1 1-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled & grated
1/3 c orange juice
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 Tb fresh lemon juice

4 6-oz pieces of tuna, about 1/2 in thick
Coarse salt
4 tsp vegetable oi
4 tsp jerk seasoning

For the mango sauce, combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste the sauce. It should be tangy. If you need to, add a bit more lemon juice. This makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Season the tuna with salt and rub each piece with 1 tsp of the oil. Rub 1/2 tsp of the jerk seasoning into each side of each piece.

Heat your grill or stove-top griddle. Grill the tuna for 2 minutes for medium-rare. If heating on a grill pan, heat over medium high heat and grill the tuna for 1 1/2 mins on each side.

To serve, spoon the mango sauce onto dinner plates. Slice the tuna and fan the slices over the sauce.


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