Mark In Tucson’s Tuna Salad

April 2, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments

Here’s another dish that Mark In Tucson has sent over. As you may remember, Mark is our chef-trained son who attended Culinary School in Portland and now lives in Tucson with his lovely wife Dora. About a month ago, I featured Mark’s Beef  Barbacoa. If you missed it, take a look by clicking HERE

I’m always  nagging asking him to send me some of the wonderful creations that come out of his home kitchen, so I was pleased to receive his email containing Tuna Salad. Especially pleased because every time I’ve tried to prepare tuna, it’s over-cooked, gray, flavorless and just flat-out odd.  

Let’s welcome Mark In Tucson, my guest blogger today and take a look at his “Just in Time for Spring Tuna Salad”.

Our recent dinner menu included “tuna salad”.

One of the best chefs told me once,” Your job is to get great ingredients…and try not to ruin them”. With that in mind I do very little to the tuna …EVOO, black pepper and high-heat grill. The dressing is lemon juice, capers and oregano.

The Tuna Salad (fast and easy). I like this one because it is not a lot of work. Very few pots and pans to wash and only takes 15 minutes .

The dish is high in protein and low in fat, the perfect lite meal to eat before doing some activity.

As for the ingredients I only use frozen ahi tuna steaks. The kind you find at a typical grocery. Each steak is individually vacu-wrapped.

I don’t like the thawed tuna in the butcher shop for this recipe. It is my opinion that tuna (all tuna) has been frozen anyway. If you have a lot of money burning a hole in your pocket you can go to a Japanese grocer or sushi supply and seek out frozen sushi grade ahi $16/pound, but since we are cooking it a little I’m using something in $7 to 10$ / pound range …

Capers are usually bought in a jar brined. I use and like these, but even better are salt cured capers. Good luck finding these, try an Italian importer. Of course they need to be rinsed a little.

The preparation is easy. Thaw tuna in vac-u-bag in slightly warm water, change water often with the goal of getting the core of the steak to about room temp. Do not start cooking if any part of the steak is still frosty .

Open up tuna and pat steaks dry with a paper towel. Lightly coat steaks with any olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Pre-heat a cast iron grill pan on highest heat setting available, let it bank a lot of heat. Just before grilling wipe grill pan with veg oil and start tuna right away. You have to babysit the tuna exclusively now because it may only cook 2 or 2.5 minutes per side, maybe less. Don’t over-cook! The center of the tuna should not get cooked and stay red and pink. The over-cooked tuna will be just like tuna in a can. Remove tuna to dinner plate so it can rest .

For the dressing:  Juice 1 lemon, 1tsp sherry vinegar, 1T good EV olive oil, 1/2 shallot finely minced, 1.5 tsp. minced capers, black pepper, 1 pinch oregano. Usually no salt is needed because of the capers and Parmesan cheese.

Plate the greens (we use a mix with a lot of bitter and some beet greens and spinach). Garnish with cucumbers, sushi rice and parched sesame seeds (sushi supply store).

After the tuna has rested 2 minutes slice thinly and fan the slices over the greens, stir up the dressing and add over tuna and greens  sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Do not dress the tuna ahead of time because the lemon juice and vinegar will cure it .

Ready to eat !

Thank you very much Mark. I most certainly will give this a try. Today we’re heading over to my favorite Italian Market/Restaurant in North Denver for lunch. Being the caper freak-0 that I am, you bet I’ll be looking for those salt-cured beauties.

I might as well start the nagging now:  What’s next Mark???  🙂

Mark In Tucson’s Tuna Salad.

It’s What’s Coming For Dinner.



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  1. That plate looks and sounds outstanding and I love the very little clean up part. I could fix me one like that and dump out some tuna from a pouch for Bev, which is what she prefers – too much canned tuna as a kid I guess.

    • The very little clean up part made me chuckle. You wouldn’t believe the pots and pans cleanup we had to endure when he was first learning to cook. (hut it was worth it) As always, thanks for stopping by Larry.

  2. Tuna evokes thoughts of oil packed, inferior fishy tasting canned seafood, not unlike cat food…. many moons ago, I switched to solid white Albacore tuna in water and never regretted it… Years ago, fresh tuna started becoming available, which took quality to another, higher level! Who would have thought it was better rare than cooked? Nice salad, lady… Happy Easter!

    • That’s alll I knew as a kid was the oil packed. When first married I’d drain the heck out of it and put it in tuna cassarole disguised in all kinds of other good flavors. I switched to albacore in water as soon as I got a brain and learned about it. I make tuna salad sandwiches with it. Now I just need to step it up a notch and learn how to cook the real thing.

  3. Lucky you to have a chef in the family. I have to make tuna for myself when my husband’s away. I love it, he won’t touch it. This looks delicious!

    • Wishing a nearing business trip for your husband????? 🙂

  4. Capers are awesome and one of the only fish I can stand is grilled fresh tuna. Just don’t wear poor mark out:)

    • Chris, I did find those salted capers yesterday and can’t wait to use them. I do like some fish but not all. And Mark is young, it would take alot of meals to wear him out! 🙂

  5. This is a fabulous recipe and looks absolutely divine! And the dressing is wonderful! Hope you have a Happy Easter!

    • Thanks for stopping Marguerite. I must say, I’m going to have to give it a try. Now I think you should take this and “cajunize” it. 🙂

  6. Do you know, I’ve been in the mood for a nice salad nicoise… this looks perfect!

    • I’ve been in the mood for lots of salads…it’s been a long cold and fatening winter! :-) As always thanks for stopping by Liz

  7. looks great love that quote and how cool to have a son who is a chef love it

    • I love the quote too. And thanks for stopping by

  8. great salad tweeting this one Happy Easter love Rebecca

    • Thanks Rebecca. I am on twitter, but need to really learn how to tweet. Thanks for stopping by

  9. A chef trained-son!!! Lucky you!!! And this salad looks amazing!

    • Pam, can you just imagine our telephone conversationss??? food…food… and more food…

  10. OMG, this looks amazing! I wish I’d seen this years ago – my son used to go to on a tuna fishing trip every year and fill my freezer with tuna. I made all sorts of things, but had a hard time knowing how to cook it without the dry-ness. This looks MUCH more tasty than my feeble attempts. For the record, the best tuna we ate was the day he’d get home and roll sushi rolls before it got put in the freezer.

    How fun to have a chef in the family- this is a beautiful post. Kudos to you and Mark!

    • Vickie, tell that kid to get back out there and bring us some more tuna. Notice I said “us”. How fun to make truly fresh sushi. I can’t imagine how good that must have tasted.

  11. That is such a beautiful salad… Excellent job

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