Aqua’s Tuna Tartare with Mint and Pears

Tuna Tartare

Aqua’s Tuna Tartare with Mint and Pears (Ταρτάρ Τόνου)

Serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as an appetizer
Adapted from Aqua Restaurant, San Francisco

The flavors of tuna, pears, mint, sesame oil, and hot peppers are perfectly balanced in this version of Tuna Tartare. When it’s gone, you’ll be left wanting more. To buy tuna for eating raw, as it is in this dish, get the highest grade big-eye tuna (also called ahi) available. Make sure your fishmonger trims off any skin or dark flesh before you buy it. We prefer making Tuna Tartare with habanero chiles, as at Aqua. However, habaneros are very spicy and not always available at our markets. If you prefer less spicy food, or can’t find habaneros, substitute jalepeno or serrano peppers. To toast the pine nuts, put them in a dry frying pan over low heat and cook just until the pine nuts are lightly brown. Pine nuts burn very easily, so watch them carefully. Because the yolks are eaten raw, I use the freshest, free range, vegetarian, organic eggs I can find.

1/2 pound sashimi grade bigeye tuna
4 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 – 1 tsp. minced habanero chiles, or 4 tsp. minced jalepeno or serrano peppers
1/4 cup diced ripe pear, 1/4” dice
2 Tbsp. minced fresh mint
2 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. chile powder, preferably New Mexican
2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 small chicken egg yolks, or 4 quail egg yolks
8 thin slices of bread

Wash and dry tuna very well. Cut into 1/2” dice, and arrange half the tuna in center of each of two plates (or a quarter of the tuna on four plates, if making appetizer servings). Make a small depression in the center of each tuna mound deep enough to contain an egg yolk.

Divide remaining ingredients by two or four, depending on size of servings, and arrange them in small piles in a circle around each tuna mound. Drizzle sesame and extra virgin olive oils over each tuna mound, and top with an egg yolk.

Toast bread; cut large slices into cracker-sized pieces. Serve two spoons with each plate, so guests can mix their own tuna tartare.

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