Here I go again. It’s been a crazy few weeks with a lot of work. I wonder, yet again, how people manage to keep up with writing blog posts while working a regular job to bring home the bacon. Especially, as the warm spring sun calls people outside, I spend less and less time in the kitchen, cooking. Should I upgrade my gadgets to be able to work on the go? Should I keep my posts short and simple? As I have a grumpy old lady inside the young-ish body of mine, I tend to ramble away once I start on a subject. Yet, the biggest problem seems to be the photos, which take not only the time to process but also the space on my hard drive. I’ll need to work out the issue soon before I drown in the sea of photos.
On this sort-of new blog, I’d be exploring more Turkish cuisine as some smart people might have already guessed. I’ve tormented readers with French cheese and wine for a long time while complaining about the lack of food scenes in Turkey. I’m going to take my love and hate relationship to another level and see what I can do about it.
First off, I want to share this exciting phenomenon with you today. Dolphins in the Aegean Sea! What a wonderful sight! It was such a surprise because the Bosphorus channel, believed to be polluted as a main passage of cargo and oil tank ships, is the last place one would expect to see dolphins. How did they come up here? Hang on…they wree actually heading down from the Black Sea, then they must have come looking for food. People get so excited by dolphins and I think they are such a beautiful and mysterious creature. Seeing dolphins shone a ray of hope into my heart as I often get homesick not being able to see wild marine life as in Australia. Unfortunately, I didn’t have either my camera or a smart phone – for the first time, I wished I’d had a smart phone.
After talking about dolphins, it seems a bit contradictory to talk about tuna fish as dolphins are the innocent victims of industrial tuna fishing. It’s so rare to eat a different variety of seafood here and when I see something other than sardine-sized fish and sea bass, I jump at it. So far I’ve discovered wild scallops, though not the fat meaty scallops, and scampies. Despite my emphasis on eating sustainable and local food, it’s inevitable to break the rule once in a while to feed my cravings. The tuna was imported from Peru but Mr.O, who’d never eaten tuna steak before, was so curious about the taste of tuna that he brought it home for me to cook. He’s making a good use of an international cook, isn’t he? He just brings whatever he sees interesting and expects me to do a magic. The most common way to enjoy tuna in Korea and Japan is sashimi, as you know, and especially in my hometown, frozen and thawed tuna sashimi is eaten wrapped in toasted seaweed. So for me, tuna+soy+wasabi+seaweed is just a fixed formula.
I also brought up being told to eat tuna with wasabi and pickled ginger to remove mercury from fish. I don’t know how Mr.O thought we could eat 6 big slabs of tuna steak and bought all, but anyhow, I marinated all in the mixture of soy, ginger, coriander seeds, white wine and pomegranate juice, which was from Urfa and super concentrated, and planned to eat our way through the next few days.
Coriander seeds are also believed to detoxify mercury along with radish. Luckily, I had radish in the fridge so I made pickled radish with kiwi fruit and purple basil. My mum often used fresh kiwi fruit for salad dressing and I happened to have two kiwi fruit that were past the prime ripeness and lost their tanginess. I don’t throw anything away. But you don’t have to freak out because I won’t use any ingredients that are not at their best when I have my own cafe. It’s only in my home that I try not to waste food. *wink*
After cooking the tuna, I rolled each piece on the mixture of toasted sesame seeds and black cumin seeds. I know that some people find sesame flavour too strong, especially the oil, and I knew that the Turks didn’t like it but cumin. So I disguised sesame flavour with cumin, which did its trick. *wink*
Oh, it was fantastic. It had everything and it was a perfect dish for Ms&Mr Greedy. Mr.O‘s eyes opened wide as if he were having a heart attack. He was not only satisfied with the taste but also the texture, which was so beefy that it was hard to believe it was fish. I’m sorry to serve it again with bulgur but it was what I had at that time and it is actually my favourite source for carbs. I fried the bulgur slightly with toasted seaweed to give the plain bulgur a new twist and it saved our fingers from getting messy while wrapping it in the seaweed.
I could sense that Mr.O was going to buy tuna more often but I put my arm on his shoulder and said, “I know you liked it and would like to have more in the future but let’s not eat it so often because it’s imported.” For the next few days, I got through the leftover cooked tuna by making a stir-fry one night and a pizza another night.
As tuna is strong meaty fish, a red easily copes with it, as long as it’s light with a good level of acidity, however, considering the spices and umami tastes in the dish, I didn’t want to risk with reds so I went for a white. Perhaps, I should stock up some rose and white wines for the warm seasons on the way. Anyway, luckily, I had a bottle of Royal Tokaj Furmint, a gift from a friend who went to Hungary and decided that it would be a perfect time for it.
Tokaj usually conjures up the dessert wine made of grapes with noble rot, which gives the wine exotic flavours. However, the same varietal makes an excellent full-bodied white wine because of its high acidity and sugar content. Furmint wines are produced mainly in Eastern European countries such as Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Bulgaria, etc, with Hungarian Furmint being the most powerful. It’s like between Sauvignon Blanc and Chadonnay, which makes the wine a versatile match for food. The one I drank was 6 month-oaked and had the creaminess on the palate and an explosion of green apple, citrusy and tropical fruit. Whomp! It was one intense wine, especially with a high alcohol content of 14.5%, but it was so balanced that I didn’t notice the alcohol degree. If you haven’t experienced Furmint wines, please grab a bottle next time when you see them. In the meantime, if you’re curious about the wine, you can read on Talk-A-Vino or The Armchair Sommelier or Tim Akin MW.
Seared Tuna Steak with Radish Kiwi Wasabi Pickle
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 chunks tuna steak
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp pomegranate juice (or 2 tsp balsamic vinegar + 1 tsp honey)
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1. Make the marinade by mixing all ingredients except the seeds for coating.
2. Leave the steak in the marinade for 30mins – 1 hr. While waiting, you can make the radish pickle.
3. Spread the seeds on a plate and heat the pan with a little vegetable oil on high heat. When the oil starts to smoke, place the steak and sear each side for 1- 2 mins, depending on your preference of doneness.
4. Press the 4 sides of the steak over the seeds to coat. Serve it, sliced.
NB: You can serve it on its own or on either rice or bulgur fried with seaweed.
Pickled Radish with Kiwi and Wasabi
4 medium-size red or white radish
1 ripe kiwi fruit
1 tsp wasabi paste
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt
fresh purple basil (or other herbs such as parsley or coriander)
1. Grate the radishes finely and chop the kiwifruit.
2. Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss it well.
3. Serve it fresh or pickle it for 1-2 hours or even overnight.