How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Peppery Pairing

While we were in Trader Joe's yesterday (see our Comfort Pizza post for other results of that outing), Pam was looking through some of the higher-quality frozen fish selections, suggesting that we try one. I told her that whatever one she chose, I would have a look in our new book Cod and Country to figure out how best to use it. I was already on thin ice, as it were, because the whole point of that book is to be a bit more careful than this in selecting one's fish.

That proverbial ice broke when I searched the index of the book for what I might do with the two tuna steaks we purchased. Author Barton Seaver considers most tuna harvesting operations to be inherently unsustainable, and therefore provides only one tuna recipe, and that is for canned albacore caught under a particular harvesting regime. For this reason, I simply searched All Recipes, and liked the first entry I found -- Grilled Jalapeño Tuna Steaks.

I modified the recipe in a couple of small ways. First, since we had lime-infused olive oil, I used that instead of oil plus lime juice. Second, since it is spring only in the technical sense, I did not put this on the grill. I simply cooked it over high heat in our indispensable cast-iron skillet. These steaks were thick, so I eventually became concerned about drying them out by the time they were cooked through. I covered them with the pan lid, and got a reasonably good -- if slightly dry -- result in terms of texture. In terms of flavor, these were really quite excellent.

Those who have not used jalapeños recently might not have noticed that they have gotten quite large and relatively mild, so a full pepper added zest without an unreasonable amount of heat. (Full disclosure: my cooking preferences were shaped more by the Southwest than the South Shore. Still, hot peppers are not what they used to be.)

I also concocted a side dish that was simple, nutritious, delicious and cheap, and was made a better pairing through the sharing of a couple of ingredients. Once I started marinating the tuna, I sauteed a small onion and a second jalapeño in our second indispensable cast-iron skillet, using a bit of butter and a bit of that lime-infused olive oil. Then I added one medium sweet potato, peeled and cut to quarter-inch dice. I cooked this until the whole mixture was a bit of a caramelized mess, eventually covering it to preserve moisture.

The pairing was actually a very nice-- well, whatever a pairing of three would be -- with the addition of a Hungarian Pinot Grigio that had been the gift of family friends.

I look forward to further experimentation with lime, jalapeño, and fish, though I will consult Seaver's work before the purchase next time!

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