Yellowfin Tuna L'Occidental
An inspired dish with just the right balance of acid and fat, luxury and simplicity.
This dish is something so special that it exists perfectly only in my memory. It is the work of Chef Galen Zamarra of the now closed Mas (farmhouse). I ordered it every time I went to the restaurant, which was often in its early years. I remember just once this dish was not on the menu and I was devastated, distractingly so, having been dreaming of it for days leading up to that dinner. It was simply that spellbinding. Supple slices of incarnadine tuna are napped with piping-hot beurre noisette, crispy shallots, and microgreens, the brown butter being so hot that sometimes the surface proteins of the tuna coagulate and cook. The beauty of the dish lies in the quality of the ingredients and how deftly they are handled and composed.
Equipment: cutting board; chef's knife; mixing bowl; rubber spatula; measuring spoons; small sauté pan; large skillet or frying pan; slotted spoon; fine mesh sieve; spoon
1 pound sushi-grade yellowfin tuna
1 tablespoon tamari
juice of 1 lime
2 peeled shallots, thinly sliced crosswise
2 cups avocado or vegetable oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup grass-fed butter
1 cup micro-greens
1. First prepare the tuna. Cut the tuna into ¼-inch thick slices of approximate equal size. Place in a mixing bowl and drizzle with tamari and lime. Set aside.
2. Now prepare the shallots. Place the shallots in a skillet and add the oil. Turn the heat to medium-high. Once the oil is shimmering and hot, carefully cook the shallots, stirring and turning as needed, for 5-7 minutes more, or until the shallots are deep golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a fine mesh sieve to drain. Set aside.
ILOC tip: manage the heat while the shallots cook, lowering or raising it as needed so that it remains consistently hot without smoking.
3. Next, arrange the sliced tuna on plates for service, either 4 small plates or 2 dinner plates. Place the fish slices snugly next to one another inside the rim to form a single layer of tuna flesh. Set aside.
4. Now prepare the beurre noisette. Place the butter in a small sauté pan and set the heat to medium high. Cook the butter until the milk solids in the butter turn golden brown, scraping the pan as the butter browns to ensure that it does not blacken. Once browned, immediately drizzle the hot butter, evenly divided, over the plated fish. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
5. Top each plate with a sprinkling of fried shallots and some microgreens. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 first-course or 2 main servings.