Tuna Tartare from San Francisco’s Aqua Restaurant

Tuna Tartare Ready to MixOn an eating trip to San Francisco, we enjoyed a meal at San Francisco’s Aqua restaurant when Michael Mina was still the chef. Everything we ordered was delicious; there was not a single false note among the dishes we devoured.

At the time, Tuna Tartare was one of Aqua’s signature dishes, and rightly so. It was beautifully presented: a pile of chopped sashimi grade ahi tuna in the middle of a white plate, surrounded by piles of spices, perfectly ripe pears, mint, and habanero chiles, topped with a quail egg and dressed with sesame oil. With two spoons, the server mixed all the ingredients together tableside, and gracefully created a mountain of tuna tartare in the center of the plate, accented by toast points. The finished dish was amazing.

Shortly after returning to Alaska, we recreated Aqua’s tuna tartare. I make it regularly for special occasions; my husband wants it every year on his birthday and we often have it as part of our Seven Seafoods Feast on Christmas Eve. I’m always happy to make it; Aqua’s Tuna Tartare is delicious.


Be sure to check out the recipes mentioned in this post:


8 Responses to Tuna Tartare from San Francisco’s Aqua Restaurant

  1. Hi Laurie!

    You surprised me with your profile info much more than my lavender cookies! :))

    This is sooooo nice to meet a “far away neighbour” !

    When I read your surname oo comments of my page I guessed you were my Greek neighbour, but I wasn’t supposing you living that far away :)))

    Really happy to meet you, and found your book interesting… I will be checking your blog, too 🙂

    Thanks for your visit dear 🙂

    Best wishes from Istanbul 🙂


  2. I love tuna tartare and you’re fortunate to have eaten Mina’s food.

  3. JennDZ - The Leftover Queen says:

    Wow, that looks so interesting. I have had lots of tuna sashimi in the past, but never served like this with a quail egg. It does look beautiful though.
    I love the Feast of the Seven Fishes. We used to have it every Christmas eve when the oldr generation was still around, funny thing is, I made a ploan to ressurect it for next year! So this series of posts of yours confirms that I MUST do it!

  4. Hi Banu – Thanks for visiting my blog. I was really happy to visit yours and only wished I could read Turkish! I’ve always wanted to go to Istanbul — you live in a very beautiful city. Nice to “meet” you!

    Peter, indeed I was – he is a very talented chef.

    Jenn, you really MUST restart the tradition — and, if you’re like me, you’ll never stop once you do. It’s fun and it’s delicious – a winning combination.

  5. Lovely and delicious! The quail eggs may be hard to get here in Nashville, but are so good! I am looking at the photo, and I just had a dish similar to this from Nemo Restaurant http://www.nemorestaurant.com in South Beach Miami. The tuna and other flavorings was very good. I really enjoy having the richness of the raw quail egg kind of melting in my mouth.

  6. Lennae, I love quail eggs and, as you say, they go really well with tuna. My favorite sushi is uni (sea urchin roe) with a quail egg on top — so good!

  7. ThreeTastes says:

    Are you familiar with Hawaiian style tuna tartare, called poke (POH-kay)? This is like poke at the next level. Will definitely try this while we’re in a place where sashimi grade tuna is relatively cheap. Though it did go from $12/lb to $25/lb before new year’s, I think it’s back to normal now.

    Speaking of Hawaiian fish, if the fishmonger at your Asian grocery carries parrotfish, do try that — it’s sometimes called the poor man’s lobster because its meat resembles the shellfish.
    Season inside, wrap in foil or banana leaves and bake or grill. Like you said about Dungeness, the less you do, the better.

  8. Yes, Manju, I’ve had poke and love it. The Asian store where we buy all of our fish and most of the produce that doesn’t come in my csa box makes their own and sells it. You’re right, its similar to poke but taken to another level.

    And, yes, the store generally has parrot fish, which I’ve never bought becaje I hadn’t yet figured out to do with them – interestng to know they don’t need flavor added. If you bake the wrapped parrot fish, what temperature and how long would you cook a whole fish? So jsut season with salt, peper, and perhaps so lemon slices, is that right?

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