Monday, June 7, 2010

Guam Volcano Tuna

We wanted to do something light for dinner, so we did up some tuna with pineapple.

So for starters let me give a nod to Dave over at My Year on the Grill who suggested we make the pineapple extra snazzy with some rum.  Good idea, mon.  I don't know whether it's better if you soak it a week ahead of time or anything, but we gave it a good 15 minutes.  It had some rum flavor for sure, but it wasn't over powering.  So maybe that was good enough.

Secondly let me give a nod to Chris over at Nibble Me This for his praise of Steven Raichlen's new book Planet Barbecue! which I grabbed recently.  That inspired us for the tuna portion of our meal.  I found the recipe itself already posted at, so I was able to cut and paste all the gory details.  We only did 2 tuna steaks, by the way.

For the Dipping Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon wasabi powder, or 1 tablespoon wasabi paste
  • 1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, peeled (for 1 tablespoon grated)
  • 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 scallion, both white and green parts, trimmed and sliced crosswise paper-thin
  • 1 hot chile, thinly sliced crosswise

For the Tuna
  • 4 tuna steaks (each about 1 1/2 inches thick and 6 to 8 ounces)
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Lemon or lime wedges, for serving

1. Prepare the dipping sauce: If you are using powdered wasabi, place it in a mixing bowl and add 1 tablespoon of warm water. Stir to form a paste and let stand for about 5 minutes. If you are using wasabi paste, place it in a mixing bowl. Grate the ginger on a fine grater into the bowl; you should have about 1 tablespoon. Cut the lemon in half and cut a thin slice off one half. Cut the slice in quarters, remove any seeds, and set the lemon quarters aside for garnishing the sauce. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon into the bowl, squeezing it through your fingers to catch any seeds. Add the soy sauce, scallion, and chile and stir to mix well. Divide the sauce among 4 small bowls. Float a quarter lemon slice in each bowl. The dipping sauce can be prepared up to 1 hour ahead.
2. Prepare the tuna: Place the tuna steaks on a large plate and thickly crust them with cracked peppercorns, pressing the pepper onto the fish on both sides and the edges. Generously season the tuna with Old Bay seasoning and salt. Place the olive oil in a shallow bowl.
3. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat it to high.
4. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Dip each piece of tuna in the olive oil on both sides, then arrange it on the hot grate. The dripping oil may and should cause flare-ups—it's supposed to. The flames will help sear the crust. Grill the tuna until it is dark and crusty on the outside but still very rare inside, 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning with tongs. When done the tuna should feel quite soft when poked.
5. Transfer the grilled tuna steaks to a cutting board and cut them into 1/4-inch slices. Cut down through the steaks, holding the blade perpendicular to the cutting board. Each slice will have a dark crusty exterior and a blood-rare center. Fan out the slices on a platter or plates. Garnish the tuna with lemon or lime wedges and serve the bowls of dipping sauce alongside.

Oh and also.  I figured that the rum-soaked pineapple leftovers would make excellent pineapple-soaked rum drink over ice. Turns out I prefer a little bourbon on the rocks to a little pineapple-tinged rum on the rocks.  But it looked pretty.

This tuna was amazing.  I must tell you that I did it once without photographing it.  My wife invited her book club over a while back.  They all brought husbands, kids and/or significant others.  Most folks ate my pulled pork (which was very tasty if I do say so for myself).  I fixed the volcano tuna for the "vegetarians" in the crowd who preferred not to eat pork.  It was a hit.  Many of the pork-eaters were wishing they had RSVP'd as vegetarian.  The dipping sauce was dubbed "The Magic Sauce."  It really is something else.

The thing that worried me about this recipe was that all the Old Bay and cracked pepper would overwhelm the tuna flavor.  Fear not.  This was really a great adventure for the taste buds.

Oh and the book club session just so happens to be when I fried my gasket trying to sear this tuna.  Stay tuned for a post about how to replace your gasket on a Big Green Egg.


  1. Stunning photo of the grate and steaks! Gorgeous.

    Hate to hear about your gasket. Mine has been torched for about 2 years. I keep saying I'm going to replace it one day. Just haven't gotten around to wanting to be without my egg for two days;)

  2. Thanks Chris! It was fun to cook, photograph and cook. I've got a Rutland gasket which I haven't put on there yet. Interesting to hear that you cook without one. Heard anything about the Rutland?

  3. Wow, used this recipe this weekend, and loved it. The Wife thought the sauce was a little hot, so I added about 1.5 tbs of Honey and it rounded it out nicely. I replaced my gasket with one from our egg store, not a Rutland, and it makes a HUGE difference. The one that comes with the egg sucks. I also cooked on it the next day after replacing it that night, so you don't have to wait long. Thanks again for an awesome recipe.

  4. Ryan, It's pretty good isn't it. Glad you liked it! I like the idea of the honey. I'll have to try that next time we have this. I've since put a Rutland gasket on my Egg. I'll have to post some comments about that project soon. Thanks!