What do you do when you have two fabulous foodies coming over with their families to dine with you? Lisa of Authentic Suburban Gourmet and Liren of Kitchen Confidante did just that this past weekend. They are two of the many friends I’ve been lucky enough to make out of this hobby called food blogging. I have mentioned them here before but more importantly, I have also been a guest in their homes and have sampled their tasty creations. From both dinner parties they have each hosted, I have left full and happy.
Knowing that the two of them are über skilled in the art of entertaining almost had the butterflies in my tummy start to go a flutter–I wanted to make certain I fed them well and that they would also leave my home happy and satisfied. Thankfully, I’m a reformed entertaining basket case. Coupled with having most gracious guests, I also selected a menu with dishes I was very familiar with to eliminate all threat of anxiety. Instead, I found myself relaxed from planning the menu days before to the time my guests arrived.
For dinner I served a simple salad, asparagus bundles wrapped in culatello (an Italian ham similar to proscuitto) and tied with chives (which were cooked in the oven), roast baby potatoes tossed in garlic, olive oil, cumin and chili powder and filet mignons which I allowed to sit in a dry rub for 24 hours. I served two accompaniments for the steak–my favorite Italian salsa verde which I’ve shared here and also crimini and dried porcini mushrooms which I sautéed in olive oil, a bit of butter with a splash of red wine and the porcini mushroom liquid. For dessert, I served my go-to chocolate cake which I’ve also shared here.
To whet our appetites, I served some charcuterie, cheese, olives, freshly-prepared Margherita pizzas and this tuna tartare. I found this recipe many years ago but it kept getting buried under the ever-growing pile of recipes that I promised to try “soon” so it was temporarily forgotten. Fortunately, a random memory came to mind reminding me how much I used to enjoy this dish so I decided to finally try it at home.
I realize that raw fish is not for everyone and that serving it to guests involves a certain amount of risk. However, I did make sure to use the freshest sashimi-grade tuna I could find and I decided that none of the precious fish would go to waste because I would have been happy to eat any leftovers. As it turns out, I did have leftovers, having used just under a pound of tuna for the recipe but my husband was only too happy to consume it all.
This tuna tartare will be a burst of freshness in your mouth. Infused with lime juice, wasabi, a bit of soy sauce, hot sauce, jalapeño, scallions and avocado, it was a pure delight to eat. I used two large ramekins (1 1/4 cup capacity) for my molds and allowed the flavors to blend for an hour or two. When I served on a plate, I noticed that the tuna was “cooked” a bit by the lime juice and that the avocado imparted a greenish hue to the tartare. The recipe did strongly recommend mixing in the avocado very carefully (so as to avoid this I would guess) but I was extremely happy with it. In fact, I had to fight to share the leftovers with my husband the next day as he fell in love with it, too. I served this on sliced baguettes but I will upgrade to crispy wonton squares next time. And there will be a next time.
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* Recipe from Ina Garten here but scaled down to serve 4-6 as a starter.
- Roughly one pound sashimi-grade tuna
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of 2 limes
- zest of 1 1/2 limes
- 1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
- Kosher salt, I used one large and one small pinch (sorry, that’s the best measurement I can give you)
- Freshly ground black pepper (about three turns on my peppermill)
- 3 minced scallions, white and green parts
- 1 minced fresh jalapeno pepper, seeds removed (I included some of the seeds)
- 1 ripe Hass avocado
Dice the tuna in 1/4-inch pieces and place in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi, soy sauce, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Add the mixture to the tuna then add the scallions and jalapeno and mix well. Cut the avocados the same size as the tuna pieces. I did this by halving the avocado, removing the seed and scoring the meat with a knife. Then I used a spoon to scoop out the pieces and added to the mixture (very carefully!). Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend. Serve on baguettes, crackers, or baked wonton squares.