I had some truly bad ahi at a restaurant earlier this month. The fish was tough, and even the pineapple mango salsa topping managed to be dry and flavorless. I asked Papi Chulo to taste some and he shrugged, responding that it “Tastes like fish.” Clearly he hadn’t eaten any well prepared fish! This particular bad experience set me on a quest to create pan seared ahi tuna steaks that aren’t dry, flavorless, and chewy. As much as I like a tropical fruit salsa on fish, it’s the most common way to find it in restaurants nearby and I wanted something a little different. As a result, these tuna steaks have a Mediterranean-inspired relish filled with olives, basil, and feta. It’s tasty and a great way to use the fruits of a summer herb garden!
I decided I’d accomplished what I set out to do when Papi Chulo saw this dish and said “Ohh! What is that?” instead of “Ick, fish.” Yahoo! As written, the recipe will yield medium-rare steaks with a still pink center. If you’d prefer steaks without a pink middle, simply cook them for about a minute longer, or until you’re satisfied with how they look. Just be careful you don’t overcook them! Also, use your own judgement with the cooking times. If your steaks are thinner or thicker, they will cook more quickly or more slowly, so keep an eye on your fish and adjust the times as needed.
The relish recipe will make enough to top four steaks, or very generously top two, so you can use the same base to make anywhere from two to four ahi steaks.
- Ahi tuna steaks
- 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup of chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup of minced shallot
- ¼ cup of roughly chopped kalamata olives
- ⅓ cup of feta cheese
- 1 scant teaspoon of vegetable oil per steak
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- Combine the vinegar, chopped basil, minced shallot, and olives in a small bowl, cover to prevent off flavors, and allow to marinate in the fridge overnight, if possible. If not, just let it marinate for as long as you can during the same day!
- Once you're ready to get cooking, pat the tuna steaks dry with paper towels and set a heavy-bottom skillet coated with an additional tablespoon of vegetable oil on medium-high heat.
- Coat both sides of each steak with vegetable oil, using a scant teaspoon for each steak.
- Crack fresh pepper across both sides of each steak, to taste, and sprinkle on a little salt, to taste.
- Once the oil is very hot and almost smoking, place the tuna in the skillet, allow it to cook for 30 seconds without touching it, turn the heat down to medium, and allow the steaks to cook for a minute and a half without moving them.
- Carefully flip the steaks and allow them to cook for an additional three minutes, of until you're satisfied with their temperature.
- Remove the tuna steaks from the pan and tent with foil for five minutes to allow the center to finish cooking.
- While the fish is resting, stir the feta into the marinaded relish.
- Top the steaks with relish and serve!
Of course, if you’re like me, you’ll want to serve the tuna steaks with some extra feta, just for good measure. Yum!
I love that this recipe is quick, easy, and full of flavor. If you prep the relish ahead, you can have dinner on the table in under 15 minutes! Now that’s what I call a weeknight meal. =)
What’s your favorite time-saving meal for a busy evening?