Caroline Cooks

A modest documentation of my culinary exploits.

Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Seared Ahi with Avocado and Pineapple Salsa

Some people can't wait to dive into a hearty breakfast. Others live for haphazard snacking. And still others look forward to a nice dinner at the end of the day.

Me, I'm a lunch girl. I like my breakfasts to be small and substantial, my dinners light, and my lunches late, long, large, and luxurious. Unfortunately, American culture usually defines lunch as a can of soup heated in the office microwave and hastily devoured. And while my job allows me to take a 2-hour lunch break if I so desire, I honestly don't want to make up the time by working late into the evening.

I'm luckily enough to live a mere 5-minute walk from work, though the recent Moussaoui proceedings, taking place in the courthouse directly in front of my building, require a slightly longer route of navigation as I snake around news crews, police cars, and blocked roads. At least I can be thankful that I have access to my own kitchen, equipment, and ingredients, rather than the communal fridge and microwave at work. But my time is very limited.

This morning, as I fantasized about the marinated ahi steak I bought from Trader Joe's, which was forced to wait patiently in my fridge until dinnertime, it occurred to me: why not have it for lunch? Pan fried, it would take a maximum of 10 minutes to prepare. My mind wandered to the avocado and fresh pineapple that also awaited me in my kitchen. A plan formed.

At 2:00 I marched into my apartment and made a beeline for the kitchen. A frying pan was immediately placed on a burner, set at medium heat, to warm up. I removed a tuna steak from the vacuum-sealed pack and placed it in the pan to cook. Although I prefer my tuna to be only lightly seared, leaving the inside still red and raw, I am skeptical of the frozen Trader Joe's fish and therefore seared it for 5 minutes on each side so it was cooked all the way through.

Meanwhile, I attacked the avocado, slicing it into bite sized chunks, and then hacked away at the pineapple until I had an equivalent number of pineapple chunks. I combined them and mixed in a drizzle of honey to coat the fruit pieces and bind them together. By the time I was finished, the ahi was nearly done.

I even had time to snap a few pictures and admire my work before tearing into it. The smooth avocado complimented the acidic pineapple very well, and the fruit was an ideal accompaniment to the tuna. It reminded me of a trip to Maui last spring, where ahi and fresh pineapple were abundant and often paired. I was shocked to realize I'd eaten almost the entire steak in one sitting. So much for having it for dinner!

I think a formal recipe would be redundant since I just walked you through the whole procedure. If you're using sushi-grade fish and like it rare, you can cook it for less time on each side. If you're not lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe's, make the marinade ahead of time and marinate the fish in the fridge overnight. Trader Joe used olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cilantro, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in his.

(Also, sorry for the dearth of entries lately. I was very busy and got off track for a few weeks, but I'm back now.)