AOK (trial) Gourmet: Grilled Tuna & Asparagus

For an introduction to "AOK (trial) Gourmet" click here.

From one impromptu date night to tuna and asparagus on our dinner table...

With two young children, Brandon and I don't get out for very many "date nights". Although both of our girls are usually in bed around 7:30 p.m. and we have the rest of our evenings to spend time together - an actual date night now and then is really... really... nice (!)

For one of our more recent dates, we kept things really simple. We put the girls to bed and called a babysitter (a teenage babysitter... the first time we have ever paid someone to simply leave the house!) and headed over to the local INDIGO. Our trip to the bookstore was followed by drinks (a giant beer for me and milk for B), a plate of nachos and dessert at Les 3 Brasseurs (one of my new favorites).
For two people who LOVE books - the trip to the bookstore (without children) was so nice. We browsed, we leafed, we lost each other... then found each other again to show off a good find... it was soooo nice. The drinks and munchies afterwards were more for me. I'm a sucker for ambiance and I was itching for 'nachos & beer'. I actually really like both the nachos AND the beer at Les 3 Brasseurs and we discovered that they also have some very tasty cheesecake on the menu (which is more than enough to convince B that it's worth going again!).

What's my point...? indeed. And what in the world does this have to do with "Grilled Tuna"? I'm getting there. I promise.

It was on this fantastic date that I discovered a new cookbook - Jamie Oliver's "Jamie's Food Revolution - Rediscover how to cook simple delicious, affordable meals". What a find! I showed it to B. I considered splurging to buy it. I mentioned that it might be a good idea for a birthday gift (you know... those things that you really like but you just can't bring yourself to say "yeah, I'll pay $45 for that".).

Well... it was my birthday last week... and guess what I got from a certain someone? "A food book" as Layla would say. "mama's food book". yes!

I've barely leafed through the whole book and I know I love it. For starters, the pictures are AMAZING and for a wannabe foodie (& domestic diva) like myself, that is KEY for any good cookbook. It also helps that the idea behind Jamie's cookbook is very "inspiring". He has kick-started what he calls the pass-it-on movement. He asks his readers to commit to learning one recipe from each chapter of his book and teach it to a few other people (and in doing so... pass-it-on) - hence the whole idea of a food revolution. I love the idea. Not only does it jive perfectly with my AOK Gourmet series, but I'm already trying to figure out when I can manage hosting a girls night where we cook a meal together so that I can pass on another recipe!

So... back to the point of this post... the recipe!

We try to eat fish at least once a week in our house. I like to buy it fresh so it's usually served the day or the day after groceries are done. Last week I was browsing through the fish section. I usually just buy whatever is on sale but the tuna steaks caught my eye. The last time I had a good tuna steak I was pregnant with Meaghan and nervous about the uncooked centre. I figured it would be much more enjoyable without the "should I be eating this? what if it hurts the baby?" voices in my head.

Chapter 11: Quick-cooking meat and fish. It was quick. 15... 20 minutes at the most TOTAL prep and cooking time. Can you say AMAZING!? AND it was good. Ymmm. AND it looked good (or at least I think it looked good).

So here it is... the recipe:

Another great, quick meal... Very zingy, very brilliant.
(serves 2) or in my case... 2 adults and 1 toddler

  • A bunch of asparagus
  • olive oil
  • 2 tuna steaks (about 7 oz each, 1/2 in. thick)

(for the dressing)

  • a small bunch of fresh basil (what is a "small" bunch... I started chopping and added until I figured there was enough)
  • 1/2 a fresh red chili (I couldn't find a fresh red chili so I opted for some dried chili flakes and 1/2 a yellow pepper finely chopped to add texture)
  • a small handful of sun-dried tomatoes (the type packed in oil)
  • 1 lemon
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
To prepare:
  • Put a large grill pan (I used a regular frying pan) on a high heat and let it get screaming hot
  • pick the basil leaves off the stalks and finely chop
  • seek and finely chop the chili (or yellow pepper!)
  • finely chop the sun-dried tomatoes and put into a bowl with the basil and chili
  • halve the lemon and squeeze all the juice into the bowl
  • add a lug of extra virgin olive oil and mix
  • Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and put to one side
  • Bend the asparagus gently until the woody bottoms of the stalk break off
  • discard these woody ends (I don't know what you would use them for anyways!)
  • Drizzle a little olive oil over the tuna, then season with salt and pepper and rub into fish

To cook:

  • Lay your asparagus on the hot, dry grill pan.

  • Turn them every minute or two, letting them char a little but not burn - this will give them a wonderfully nutty flavor
  • After a few minutes, push them to one side and add the tuna to the pan
  • You will be able to see the heat cooking up the tuna from the bottom
  • After a minute or so, when the tuna has cooked halfway through, flip both steaks over
  • Cook for another minute or two (you may think it's strange, as it's fish, but tuna should actually remain slightly pink in the middle when you serve it - it will become too dry if you overcook it)

To serve:

  • Pile a few asparagus spears on each plate and spoon some of your tangy dressing over them
  • Lay the tuna over the asparagus and spoon another dollop of dressing on top
  • Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil before serving

The result... it might look like a lot of steps, but they are little steps and it really does all come together very quickly... and beautifully... and deliciously. Obviously I am a fan. B liked it too. I was a little skeptical of cooking the asparagus in a dry pan, but it worked. On this particular evening B was helping me in the kitchen so I nursed Meaghan while he moved the asparagus around the pan and cooked the tuna. So if I'm honest, I actually only put together the sauce and the "presentation". Oh well. The sauce was zingy and tangy (both words that Mr. Oliver used to describe it) and isn't perhaps the best for a toddler's taste buds, but Layla ate the fish and the asparagus which was good enough for me.

This will be a new recurring meal in my house. I hope you'll try it... and maybe even pass-it-on. It would make good ol' Jamie proud!



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