Layers of Asian and Latin flavors wow the senses.
There used to be a restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan called Citrus Bar & Grill that served Latin/Asian fusion cuisine, way back when "fusion" was a culinary buzz word. It offered a "tres maki combination" platter, and one of the three rolls was spicy tuna and banana. Oh, how I loved that roll! So many seductive juxtapositions at play: the heat of the cold tuna paired with the sweetness of the warm plantain. The restaurant has been closed for many years, but the following recipe brings those flavors back to life in a stunning presentation with an essential assist from the humble ring mold. It truly could not be easier to make this restaurant-level dish at home. It's all about technique, not torture because...It's Lauren, of Course!
Equipment: cutting board; chef's knife; sauté pan; tongs; paper towel-lined plate; mixing bowl; rubber spatula; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; mixing bowls; spoons; ring mold; four plates for service
1 very ripe plantain, ¼-inch slices crosswise
1 cup vegetable oil
1½ pounds sushi-grade tuna (ahi)
½ cup sriracha mayo*
1 large square of nori (seaweed), chopped
2 cups prepared sushi or sticky rice
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
juice of 1 lime
kosher salt to taste
1 cup microgreens (Gilbertie's Citrus Blend)
1 scallion thinly sliced
1. First fry the plantains. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, carefully place the plantains in the pan and cook for approximately two minutes per side, until golden brown. Adjust the heat so the oil does not become too hot and the plantains do not cook too quickly by burning. Remove to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
2. Next, prepare the tuna. Cut the tuna in ¼-inch dice and place in a mixing bowl. Stir in ¼ cup of the sriracha mayo and mix well to combine. Set aside.
* Store-bought sriracha mayo works perfectly, but if you prefer to make your own, combine ½ cup mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce, plus 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil. Lime juice, honey, or some minced garlic are welcome additions.
3. Cut the fried plantains in a small dice and stir into the tuna. Add more sriracha mayo to taste, up to but not exceeding ¼ cup. Stir in the chopped nori (seaweed). Set aside.
4. Place the flesh of two avocados in a bowl and mash with a fork, leaving some of the mixture chunky. Stir in the juice of one lime and season with kosher salt to taste. Set aside.
5. Next, prepare the rice either by warming already made sushi or sticky rice in the microwave or by preparing the rice from scratch. Using a fork, mix the warm or room temperature rice with the black sesame seeds.
ILOC tip: this recipe is the ideal time to use prepared sushi rice or sticky rice instead of making it from scratch. As long as it is not cold, it will work perfectly as the base of this tuna stack.
6. Place a ring mold in the center of a plate. Place ½ cup of the sesame rice into the ring mold, packing it down with the back of a spoon in an even layer. Next, spoon in the tuna-plantain mixture leaving ¼ inch of space to the rim, packing it down with the back of a spoon in an even layer. Finally, add some seasoned avocado to top and smooth with the spoon.
7. Carefully remove the ring mold to reveal three distinct layers: rice, tuna-plantain, and avocado. Top the avocado layer with a generous pinch of microgreens and a sprinkle of sliced scallions. Repeat Steps 6 and 7 three times until four tuna stacks have been prepared.
8. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.