March 11, 2013

Tuna with black bean sauce

Tuna with a white wine fermented black bean sauce and Thai-basil

Tuna with black bean sauce and Asian herbs with crispy potatoes
This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman's Roasted Thick Fish Fillets. 

This dish smells marvelous when it's cooking. It's rich and filling for a Monday night dinner. Although it appears to take much longer to prepare, I made the fish, a brown rice pilaf, some flash-fried potatoes, and some steamed cabbage - in under an hour. Honestly, I did. I even put a bottle of wine into the freezer. 

I used frozen thick cut tuna steaks, and lots of freezer items. The premise of this dish is to pan-sear the tuna over medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side, and then finish the cooking in the oven. You add a liquid and some herbs and it creates a rich sauce. I chose a white-wine base with lots of Asian herbs (Thai basil, cilantro), ginger, fermented black bean sauce, and sun-dried tomatoes. My freezer is stocked with frozen herbs, and my pantry is stocked with useful ingredients. The freezer items included frozen fresh ginger, frozen cabbage from my fall CSA-box, Thai basil, and frozen cilantro. Frozen herbs aren't as good as fresh, but they seem more flavorful than dried. I store them whole in zip top bags, or I store them in ice cube trays. Place freshly chopped herbs and water in an ice-cube tray and freeze until frozen. Ginger root stores well in the freezer. When you want to use it just grate it frozen over a microplane, or run under water until just softened and chop. Jalapeños store well in the freezer.

The tuna was served with the sauce alongside a brown rice pilaf and steamed cabbage. Top the tuna with the fried potatoes and serve immediately. I paired this meal with a Sauvignon blanc. 

Tuna with a white wine fermented black bean sauce and Thai-basil
This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman's Roasted Thick Fish Fillets
Yield: Serves 2 to 4

3 tbsp olive oil 
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into a small dice (1/2" by 1/2")
1 or 2, 6 oz tuna steaks
salt and pepper
3/4 cup white wine plus 1/4 cup water (can also use vegetable broth instead of wine)
1 tbsp fermented black bean sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)
1/2 cup mixed Thai basil and cilantro 
1 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
Fresh ginger, shredded 

1. Heat oven to 450º F (230º C).
2. In an oven-proof skillet, heat up 3 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the small diced potatoes and cook until golden brown (6 minutes). Once golden, spoon off the potatoes with some of the remaining olive oil and place on a non-stick baking pan in the oven to finish cooking. Set a timer for 8 minutes to avoid overcooking. You should have about 2 tbsp of olive oil leftover. 
3. Dredge the tuna in a bit of salt and pepper. I used Trader Joe's chili sea salt. Place the tuna in the skillet, and sear on each side for about 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, combine wine, water, and the fermented black bean sauce and pour into the skillet. The skillet will make an impressive sizzling sound. Lift the pan and swirl around the liquid, and then place in the oven. Set the timer for 10 minutes. 
4. Combine the herbs, sun dried tomatoes, and slivered, or shredded, ginger in a small bowl and set aside. 
5. Once the 10-minute timer goes off, flip the tuna over, add the bowl of herbs from step 4, and set the timer for another 5-6 minutes. If the tuna is thicker, it may require additional cooking time. Alternatively, if you like your tuna on the medium side, cook for less time. The fish is done when it flakes easily. Serve immediately and garnish with potatoes. 


  1. That sounds so good! I'm saving it to try! Thanks for stopping on my log too! Cheers!

  2. mark bittman knows what's up! :)

  3. Fantastic! This doesn't look like something I'd usually pick up but I will admit that the premise has gotten me intrigued!
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