Posts Tagged ‘tuna’

This episode of Good Eats sees Alton in the kitchen with his “nephew,” striving to whip up some kid-friendly sandwiches. Alton has four rules for making sandwiches:

  1. Soft fillings and spreads pair best with soft breads.
  2. A barrier (mayo, butter, oil, etc.) should be used to keep bread from getting water-logged from wet ingredients.
  3. The order of sandwich ingredients matters – slippery ingredients are not to be placed next to each other.
  4. Quality of bread is crucial, and you should only utilize bread that you would happily consume plain. Pre-sliced bread tends to be loaded with preservatives, so should be avoided.

Pan Bagnat

The first sandwich Alton makes is a pan bagnat, which translates to “wet bread.” What is a pan bagnat? Basically, it is a French version of a sub sandwich, consisting of several layers of ingredients. This sandwich is designed to be made a couple hours before consumption, as it is best to let the flavors mingle. This sandwich starts with a vinaigrette made by placing 1/2 t Dijon mustard in a bowl, and whisking in 1 T red wine vinegar, 1/2 t Kosher salt, and several grinds of pepper. While continuing to whisk, drizzle in 3 T olive oil to form an emulsion. Set the dressing aside while you build the sandwich.

This sandwich serves four people, and I only needed enough for two, so I cut the recipe in half. Bread-wise, for four servings, you want to get a 16-inch baguette. Slice the loaf in half horizontally and use your fingers to dig out trenches in the center of each half of bread, as if you are creating bread canoes. You can discard the removed bread, or use it to make bread crumbs.

Fill the trench in the bottom half of bread with 12 ounces of drained tuna fish (you can use either oil or water-packed tuna).

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Bottom bread trench filled with tuna fish.

Next, add a layer of 1/3-inch thick green bell pepper slices, followed by a layer of 1/3-inch thick red onion slices.

Next, add two hard boiled eggs, thinly sliced.

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Tuna topped with green bell pepper, red onions, and hard boiled eggs.

On top of the eggs, sprinkle on 1 C of pitted/chopped Kalamata olives.

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Tuna topped with green bell pepper, red onions, hard boiled egg, and Kalamata olives.

Top the olives with 4-5 slices of very ripe tomato and drizzle on the red wine vinaigrette, letting the dressing drizzle down between the ingredient layers.

Place the top bread on top of the sandwich. Wrap the sandwich very tightly in plastic wrap; you will need to overlap sheets of plastic to have a sheet wide enough for the length of the sandwich. Once wrapped, let the sandwich sit at room temperature for two hours before slicing and eating.

I made this sandwich last Friday, as we were taking a short road trip out of town. The sandwich sat in the car for the duration of our drive, and was then ready to eat for dinner when we arrived at our vacation rental.

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Alton’s pan bagnat. Excuse the poor lighting in this photo, as our vacation rental had horrible lighting.

Personally, I really liked this sandwich, but Ted doesn’t like canned tuna, so he was not a huge fan. He did, however, say that he would really like this sandwich if it were made with a different protein. Basically, if you’ve ever had a niçoise salad, this sandwich is that salad in sandwich form. Alton did not follow his second sandwich rule of using a moisture barrier with this recipe, so I wondered if the sandwich would end up soggy from the tuna, tomato, olives, and dressing, but it really was not soggy at all. What I liked most about this sandwich were its contrasting flavors, colors, and textures. The veggies gave the sandwich a crunch, the tomato and dressing kept the sandwich from being dry, and the eggs gave a slight creamy texture. Flavor-wise, the vinaigrette and olives were tangy, bright and salty, while the red onions gave a bit of spice/heat. The tomato added fruitiness and the tuna contributed a slight fishy flavor. It was also convenient to be able to make this sandwich ahead. I will definitely make a version of this sandwich again, though I likely will substitute something else (chicken salad?) for the tuna unless I am the only one eating it.

Cuban Sandwich

The second sandwich recipe in this episode is for Alton’s take on the classic Cuban sandwich. To make Cuban sandwiches, slice hoagie rolls in half horizontally and liberally spread yellow mustard on both halves of the rolls.

Top the mustard with a thin layer of baked ham, followed by a thin layer of roast pork (I made a small pork roast for these sandwiches).

Top the pork with two slices of provolone or Swiss cheese (I used Swiss) and two long, thin slices of Kosher dill pickle.

You can wrap the sandwiches in plastic and save them for later, or you can cook them right away. To cook the sandwiches, brush/spread them with butter and press them in a panini press for about 10 minutes.

If you do not have a panini press, you can still press the sandwiches by wrapping three fireplace bricks in foil. Place the bricks on a sheet pan. Place three more bricks (they do not need to be wrapped in foil) on a second sheet pan. Place the two sheet pans of bricks in a 500-degree oven for an hour. Remove the sheet pans from the oven and brush the foil-covered bricks with butter. Place the sandwiches on the foil-covered bricks and brush the sandwich tops with butter. Place the sheet pan of unwrapped bricks on top of the sandwiches and let the sandwiches press between the bricks for about 10 minutes.

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Alton’s Cuban sandwich.

I really enjoy Cuban sandwiches because I love their zesty flavor, and I thought this was a great, fast version to make at home. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of roasting pork for this recipe, you could always substitute sliced turkey, or at least that is what Alton says. I’m sure some Cuban sandwich classicists would pooh-pooh Alton’s version with provolone and turkey, but if it tastes good (and it does), who cares?

Roasted Vegetable Spread

The last recipe in this episode is for a vegetarian spread that you could use on any sandwich, or just on crackers or bread. Preheat your oven to 400. While the oven heats, toss the following vegetables with 1-2 T olive oil:  1 sliced zucchini, 1 sliced (into rings) red bell pepper, 1 sliced (into rings) onion, and 4-5 crushed cloves of garlic.

Spread the veggies on a foil-lined sheet pan and sprinkle them with Kosher salt. Roast the vegetables for 45 minutes, stirring them occasionally.

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Zucchini, red bell pepper, onion, and garlic tossed with olive oil, spread on a sheet pan, and sprinkled with Kosher salt.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and let them cool to room temperature.

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Vegetables after roasting for 45 minutes.

Place the veggies in a food processor, along with eight ounces of cream cheese, and pulse to combine.

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Roasted vegetables in the food processor with cream cheese.

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Alton’s vegetable spread, served with bread slices.

Alton recommends serving his spread on soft bread (see sandwich rule number 1 above). This spread has a sweet veggie flavor from the caramelized vegetables. While I would not be able to identify zucchini in this spread, the flavors of red bell pepper, onion, and garlic are easily identifiable. I did feel that the spread could use a bit more Kosher salt, though. We enjoyed this as an appetizer on sliced bread, though I can attest it is also good on crackers. This is a recipe that would be great to keep in mind for when you are cleaning out your produce drawer, as you could roast a variety of leftover vegetables and have a different spread each time. I plan to make this again the next time we have leftover veggies.

Chimney Tuna Loin

After I watched episode 68, I realized I was going to have to do some serious hunting to find high-quality tuna loin to sear. We live inland, so it can be challenging (and sometimes expensive) to find certain ingredients. I decided to ask the resident ceviche expert of my town where I could purchase sushi grade tuna; his expression told me all I needed to know, and I realized I would have to give in and order some fish online. A few days later, a cooler arrived at my door with a pound of fresh tuna from California.

I was struck by one thing when I first looked at this recipe online – this recipe gets great reviews. Ideally, when preparing tuna, you want to eat it the day it is purchased, but you can store it for a day or so by wrapping it in plastic and placing it on crushed ice in a perforated tub; place the perforated tub inside a second tub to catch any draining liquid, and change the ice 1-2x per day.

To sear your tuna, you will need natural chunk hardwood charcoal and a chimney starter. Fill your chimney starter to the brim with charcoal and spritz some newspaper with canola oil, placing the newspaper under the chimney starter; the oil will slow the burning of the paper. Light the newspaper with a lighter and let the fire build until it is very hot and the coals have gone down about 50%.

While your fire is heating up, trim your tuna into blocks that are about 4x4x2 inches, removing any bloodline.

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My tuna, cut into two blocks for searing.

For a marinade, combine 1/2 C soy sauce, 1/2 C honey, and 1/4 C wasabi powder, reserving 4 ounces of the marinade for a dipping sauce later.

Place the fish into the marinade for 1-4 hours. Alton marinated his fish for an hour in the show, so that is what I did. When ready to cook, drain the marinade from the fish and roll the fish in sesame seeds, coating four sides.

Place an oiled grill grate over the top of your chimney starter and add your fish. You will want to sear your fish for approximately 30 seconds per side, scraping any burnt sesame seeds off the grate each time you turn the fish.

Place the fish on a clean plate and tightly cover it with plastic wrap for 3 minutes. You can serve the fish immediately, or you can wrap it in fresh plastic and refrigerate for up to three days.

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Seared tuna, covered in plastic for 3 minutes.

Slice the fish thinly just prior to serving, and eat with the reserved marinade as a dipping sauce.

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Seared tuna, thinly sliced.

This was kind of a special dinner for us since we paid more than we normally would for fish. My fish appeared to be cut as more of a steak, rather than as a center cut of loin, so it was tricky to cut the fish into a uniform block for even cooking. If anything, my fire was possibly a little too hot, as my sesame seeds were really burning, so I would maybe let my fire go a little longer next time before commencing cooking. The marinade/dipping sauce was really zippy, packing quite a punch of heat from the wasabi.

I was happy with the quality of the fish I purchased, as it had zero fishy flavor and a nice red interior. This is one I would really like to try again, but it would probably be reserved for special occasions since the main ingredient is expensive and difficult to find where I live. However, if you happen to live where you can easily find fresh tuna, I would definitely suggest trying Alton’s seared tuna. No matter what, it was fun to try!