Blackened Yellowfin Tuna with Roasted Vegetable Salsa and Smoked Corn Sauce
James Beard Award-winning Chef Frank Brigtsen gives a tip of the toque to fellow New Orleans Chef Paul Prudhomme, who started the whole “blackened” thing. Here, Brigtsen blackens tuna steaks with Prudhomme’s seasoning, then serves them with vegetable salsa. The smoked corn sauce, with a bit of zing from cayenne pepper and cumin, is an unusual touch which could find itself on a plate with, say, grilled chicken.
- Roasted Vegetable Salsa
- Tomatoes - 2, large
- Red Bell Pepper - 1 large (alt. yellow bell pepper)
- Red Onion - 1 medium
- Jalapeno Chilies - 1 small
- Lime Juice - 1-1/2 teaspoons, fresh
- Cilantro - 3/4 teaspoon, minced fresh
- Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- Garlic - 1/2 teaspoon, minced
- Louisiana Gold hot sauce - 1/4 teaspoon (alt. other hot pepper sauce)
- Cumin - 1/8 teaspoon, ground
- Smoked Corn Sauce
- Corn - 6 ears
- Unsalted Butter - 4 tablespoons
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Freshly ground black pepper - 1/4 teaspoon
- Cayenne Pepper - 1/8 teaspoon
- Garlic - 1/8 teaspoon, minced fresh
- Sage - 1/8 teaspoon, minced fresh
- Bay Leaf - 1 small
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup
- Blackened Yellowfin Tuna
- Yellowfin tuna steaks - Four 8 oz, 1 inch thick
- Clarified butter - 4 teaspoons melted
- Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic© - 4 teaspoons (alt. Creole seasoning)
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Asparagus - 24 spears, blanched
- Yellow Summer Squash - 1 large, cut in large julienne, blanched
- Cilantro - 6 sprigs
To prepare the vegetable salsa: Place the vegetables on a hot grill or directly over the flame of a gas stove. Cook and turn until the vegetables are charred all over. When done, place the vegetables in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes. Under running water, peel the vegetables and remove all the seeds. Cut into 1/4-inch dice. Combine the diced vegetables and all the remaining salsa ingredients. Set aside.
To make the corn sauce: Husk the corn and smoke the whole ears of corn over medium coals sprinkled with 1/2 cup presoaked hickory chips in a covered barbecue grill, turning the corn several times, for a total of 30 to 40 minutes; the corn should be light brown. Do not over-smoke. Let cool, then cut the kernels from the cobs and set the kernels aside.
Heat a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Melt the butter and cook the onions until translucent, about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the corn and cook until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and add the salt, white pepper, cayenne, garlic, cumin, sage, and bay leaf. Cook for about 3 more minutes, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan with a spoon. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside; keep warm.
To cook the tuna: Dip the tuna steaks in melted butter and season heavily with Seafood Magic© or Creole seasoning. Heat a cast-iron skillet to the smoking point. Add the steaks and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare; the tuna should still be pink inside.
To finish the vegetables: Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in each of two small saute pans or skillets over medium heat. Put the asparagus in one, the squash in the other. Warm the vegetables in the butter.
To serve: Pool each of six serving plates with corn sauce, reserving a little for the end. Top each with a tuna steak and spoon a little more sauce, then the vegetable salsa on each. Arrange spears of asparagus and the squash julienne on one side of the plate. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.