3 tablespoons mirin, or dry sherry mixed with a pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon sake or vodka
1/4 cup Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds chilled sushi-quality tuna steaks
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 medium Golden Delicous apple
1/4 European cucumber, peeled and finely diced
2 large scallions, white and tender gree, minced
1 medium Hass avocado, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 sheet of nori, cuntil into thin strips (optional)
8 quail egg yolks (optional)
How to Make It
In a small nonreactive saucepan, bring the soy sauce, mirin and sake to a boil over moderately high heat. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely, then add the sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the ginger, garlic, cayenne and black pepper. Let the sauce stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or refrigerate overnight.
Using a very sharp knife, slice the tuna 1/3 inch thick. Cut each slice into 1/3-inch-thick matchsticks and then finely chop the tuna; work quickly so that the tuna stays cold. Transfer the chopped tuna to a bowl and refrigerate until chilled again.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the pine nuts and stir over moderately high heat until lightly toasted, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and rub to remove the oil. Coarsely chop the pine nuts and put them in a small bowl. Add the sesame seeds to the skillet and toast over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add to the pine nuts.
Peel and finely dice the apple. In a bowl, combine the tuna, pine nuts, sesame seeds, apple, cucumber and scallions. Stir the sauce and add 1/2 cup to the tuna. Toss quickly and thoroughly. Spoon the tartare onto 8 chilled plates and sprinkle with the avocado and nori. Set a quail egg yolk in the center of each serving and drizzle a little of the sauce around the plates. Serve immediately.
Pair with a rich, fruity white like Trefethen Vineyards Chardonnay or Cakebread Cellars Charodnnay, both from California.
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