Saturday, January 17, 2009

Recipe: Ahi Tuna & Legumes with Mandarin Honey Glaze

The Co-op has an awesome deal going on right now: fresh mandarins for just $1.99/lb. You really can't get anything better than some cheap and tasty vitamin C, so I bought about 2 pounds worth. Close cousin to the orange, as many of you know, the mandarin has a distinctly different flavor that is simply delightful in fresh juices & desserts. However, I'd also been toying with the idea of making an interesting glaze with it, since I have a ton of fresh honey from a guy that has his own local hives here in Sacramento. I'd forgotten I had some marinated Ahi tuna steaks in my freezer, and with my need & desire to return to a normal size, I thought they'd make a great weekend dinner. The mandarin glaze seemed like it would go well with the tuna, and with plenty of veggies around the kitchen to steam or stir fry, particularly Trader Joe's Brittany Blend (green beans, wax beans, and baby carrots - yum!), everything fell into place just beautifully.

If you don't have access to mandarins, don't worry: regular oranges will do just fine in this recipe. Do not use plain old orange juice though, as the key to this glaze is fresh juice and quality honey. The mandarin sections aren't necessary (now I know why the canned ones are so expensive: they're almost impossible to peel properly!), but they add a beautiful appearance and flavor to the whole dish. I sear my tuna steaks since I find this to be the most delicious tasting result, but if you or your family are squeamish, you can cook the tuna all the way through (just try to avoid overcooking, as the fish will toughen and lose its flavor). This dish is excellent for those on a low cal and relatively low-carb eating plan (I tend to shy away from low-carb menus as an entire diet of them is not healthy at all, but they're good in the short term), and the glaze makes it an easy way to sneak fruits, veggies, and fish into a kids diet, for all you moms out there.

Ahi Tuna & Legumes with Mandarin Honey Glaze

Juice of 4 mandarin oranges
2 T orange blossom honey (regular honey is fine)
1 clove crushed garlic
1/4 t salt
2 medium marinated Ahi tuna steaks (if using plain Ahi tuna, season lightly with lemon pepper, sea salt, and garlic; reserve a couple tablespoons of olive oil for cooking)
2 c Brittany Blend (or any blend of wax and green beans, and baby carrots)
Lemon pepper & salt to taste
Mandarin sections (about 6)
Couple sprigs of cilantro for garnish

Prepare the glaze by combining the mandarin juice, honey, garlic, and salt in a bowl and whisking vigorously until completely mixed. In a small saucepan, heat the glaze mixture over medium heat until it comes to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 3 minutes & remove from heat. Glaze will thicken on its own.

Heat oil in a skillet on medium high heat until oil is moving on its own. Add the tuna steaks and sear for about 2 minutes on each side (depending on thickness). In the meantime, steam the vegetables in a steamer, adding lemon pepper and garlic before steaming so the flavors seep into the vegetables. When veggies and tuna are finished cooking, remove from heat. Allow tuna to cool for about 2 minutes before slicing. Place about 1/2 cup of legumes on a plate, then arrange a few thick slices of tuna on top. Add a few mandarin orange sections and some fresh, rinsed cilantro leaves, and drizzle the dish generously with the mandarin honey glaze. For a little extra heat, sprinkle some crushed red chilies on top. Enjoy!

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