Pan Seared Ahi Tuna with Cherry Tomatoes and Olives

This recipe is one of my favorites when I want to prepare an elegant and healthy dinner in a very short time, with ingredients that are readily available.

The secret is in the main ingredient, ahi tuna, that has to be of superior quality, or what people call “sashimi grade”. Even if there is no official sashimi grade, as far as I know, the intent is clearly to characterize a piece of fish loin absolutely clean from fat, skin, blood lines and so on, compact in texture and perfectly pink in color. And these qualities are found in a “saku block” – literally a block of tuna meat.

The most amazing fact that makes this dish so easy is that the tuna has to be frozen. I mean that it is actually better to buy it frozen! Tuna, as many other fishes, can have parasites often invisible to the human eye, that if eaten can provoke an array of side effects from very light discomfort to serious illness that requires hospitalization. And the best way to prevent any of these problems when consuming raw or undercooked fish is to freeze it to very low temperatures – a process which kills most of the potential parasites. The freezing should be done industrially, as the home freezer is not powerful enough to bring the temperature down to -35C or -31F in less than an hour.

So, for once you can feel really good about buying the frozen saku block at your preferred seafood store and storing it in your home freezer until you need it. In Los Angeles where I live, I find the saku in the Japanese groceries’ stores, sometimes in the Koreatown ones, and at Santa Monica Seafood.

Even if I love the taste of tuna in all the possible ways, I still limit the consumption to once a week at the most, as unfortunately tuna has generally a high content of mercury, that can also be harmful; it is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women, for children and people with a compromised immune system. Apart from that tuna is a perfect lean protein, rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and very versatile for different preparations.

Today’s recipe is my own take on seared tuna.


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For 4 Servings

1 cup Carnaroli rice
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 tablespoons of EV Olive Oil
½ glass of white table wine
1 pint chicken stock preprepared (or vegetable stock)
1 cup rinsed blueberries
1 cup roasted chestnuts or more, chopped in big pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese (optional)