In this elegant takeoff on classic steak tartare, raw tuna is diced and molded in a ring, then topped with a quail egg yolk and served with toast triangles. Select the chilies with an eye — and a taste bud — for your tolerance for heat; a single Scotch bonnet will add more heat than two serranos or jalapenos. Keep the tuna cold until just before it is served.
- Sashimi-Grade Tuna - 12 ounces
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- Pine nuts - 1/2 cup
- Quail Eggs - 4
- Bread - 8, thin slices, lightly toasted and trimmed of crust
- Garlic Cloves - 3, minced
- Red Serrano or Jalapeno Chilies - 2, or 1 Scotch bonnet (habanero), seeded and minced
- Plum or Pear - 1, pitted and very finely diced
- Fresh mint leaves - 16, cut into fine shreds
- Sesame Oil - 1 tablespoon, toasted
- Chili Oil - 1 tablespoon
To prepare the tuna: Trim all skin and veins from the tuna. Using a sharp knife dipped in warm water, slice the tuna and cut it into 1/4-inch dice. Season with salt and pepper and place it in a small bowl set in a bowl of ice. Cover and refrigerate.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast, shaking occasionally to brown evenly, 5 to 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, then roughly chop the nuts and set them aside.
Gently top the narrow end of each quail eggshell but cutting with a sharp, small knife. Carefully remove the top and separate each egg. Discard the whites and place the yolk back into each reserved eggshell. Cut each slice of toast into four triangles.
To serve: Place a 2-inch stainless steel ring mold in the center of each serving plate. Spoon one fourth of the tuna into each ring mold and press down lightly with the back of the spoon. Combine the garlic and chilies. Around each mold place three mounds of one fourth of the nuts, the chili mixture, and the fruit. Gently press a quail egg into the center of each serving of tuna and carefully lift the ring molds. Arrange eight toast triangles around the edge of each plate. Sprinkle the plates with mint and drizzle with the sesame and chili oils.