Asian slaw in ginger-lime vinaigrette
(and a word on seared ahi tuna…)
The other night, Zack came for dinner. He’s a hungry guy, a college student living on his own now. When he comes home to eat, we like to feed him well (which in no small part means: plenty.) One of his favorite things (and we know he’s not fixing this in his own kitchen) is seared ahi. He got an especially good piece this time and the “boy” was sitting satisfied (licking his whiskers) when his plate was cleaned. The thing about searing ahi is this: it happens quickly and it’s got to quickly make its way to the plate to be enjoyed hot. That doesn’t allow for portraiture … not around here anyway. So I’ll simply tell you how I fix it and leave you to conjure the images and the incredible tasty tenderness of it all.
Start with sushi-grade ahi, about 1-inch thick. I like to coat it with a layer of sesame seeds (either white or black,) patted in well…it’s quite beautiful, there’s no possibility of the ahi sticking to the pan, and I seem to get the very best sear on it this way. Put a cast iron skillet on the burner, turned to medium-high. Allow the pan to become searing-hot. Add a drizzle of sesame oil, swirl to coat the skillet, then quickly drop in the tuna. Sear for 1 to 2 minutes undisturbed (time depends on thickness of the cut, the heat of your pan and how rare you like it – most love it very rare); flip and sear the other side. In very little saucers, serve wasabi and tamari sauce for dipping. For each of us in our family, this is one of our very favorite meals! We served it this time with white basmati rice scattered with black sesame seeds – and the following slaw, which, thankfully, stood still long enough (just barely) to be caught in a photo:
fresh, clean and bright vegetable confetti tossed in a savory vinaigrette that balances between tart and sweet and gingery-warm.
Asian slaw with red cabbage, red pepper, snow peas & carrot in ginger-lime vinaigrette
- ½ head of red cabbage (3 to 4 cups)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 large carrot
- 1 or 2 handfuls snow-peas
- 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (black are pretty)
Finely slice the cabbage and red pepper. Either shred or match-stick cut (in 2-inch lengths) the peeled carrot. Wash the snow-peas and remove their strings. Slice thinly lengthwise. Toast the sesame seeds in a pan on the stove, medium to medium-low heat for maybe 5 minutes, shaking the pan frequently. Don’t allow to smoke. Toss with the following –
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice (½ of an extra-juicy lime)
- 1 Tablespoon raspberry vinegar or sherry vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup (or slightly more to taste)
- 1½ teaspoon finely-minced fresh ginger
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil (amazing stuff)
- 3 Tablespoons canola or other light oil
Place ingredients in a small lidded jar and shake well to blend. The best way to determine if the balance of any salad dressing is right is to sample a little of it on a bit of salad. If the balance of sweet to sour isn’t to your liking, make adjustments. If you dress the slaw just before serving, it will be very crispy. If you dress and wait 30 minutes before serving, it will have started to soften the vegetables and the flavors will have blended. You decide which you like. In any event, a salad dressing is best if prepared a bit before you’re ready to use it.