I was first exposed to sushi in my teens when we lived in Vancouver. My parents would explore some of the more exotic restaurants on the weekends…then treat my sisters and I once they found a favorite. We quickly became fans of this Japanese dish which was such a foreign experience for us Iowans…and the idea of eating raw seafood made us feel hip and chic. Fast forward a couple decades to when Bill and I ate at Todd English’s Olives and I had my first taste of tuna tartare. My love affair with rare tuna was reignited…and anytime Ahi tuna is on the menu, I will order it.
When in France earlier this year, I ordered salad Niçoise at every destination: Paris, Aix en Provence, Bayeux and Cannes. The variations were endless…but they were all made with canned tuna. My Food Lovers’ Companion described Salade Niçoise as containing tomatoes, black olives, garlic, anchovies plus French green beans, onions, tuna, hard-cooked eggs and herbs. Check, check and more checks. I could use all my favorite ingredients and add seared Ahi instead of oil packed can tuna. I’m sure this is sacrilege by many Niçoise purists, but hubby was out of town, and I wanted to treat myself to one of my favorites without having to make a back up plan dinner. You can alter the amounts of ingredients to suit your preferences. I’m not a huge fan of hard boiled eggs, so I only used three…and upped the tuna amounts. I didn’t even bother with the garnishes…I was too eager to dig in! Besides being utterly breathtaking, this was as palate pleasing as I imagined.
Salade Niçoise…adapted from Saveur
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound small new potatoes, boiled till tender, cooled and halved
8 ounces haricot verts (French green beans), blanched
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved if needed
1/2 cup Niçoise olives, pits removed
4 hard boiled eggs, cooled, then halved
3/4-1 pound sushi grade Ahi tuna
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small English cucumber, thinly sliced
Baby lettuces or spinach
1/4 cup scallions or red onion, thinly sliced, optional garnish
Basil, optional garnish
Salt and pepper, as needed
Make the dressing by mixing all ingredients except olive oil. Slowly add olive oil while whisking continuously. Set aside.
Place tuna in a glass or plastic container and drizzle a small amount of dressing on each side. Return to refrigerate and allow to marinate up to 1 hour, flipping once. Remove from fridge, pat dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Put about 1 tablespoon olive oil into saute pan. Sear tuna on both sides for a minute or to desired doneness. Briefly sear all edges. Allow to cool, then slice.
Arrange a bed of lettuce on individual plates or platter. Arrange remaining ingredients over lettuce. Drizzle with dressing and garnish with onions and basil if desired.