It’s bluefin tuna season in Maine. The small fleet is offshore with harpoons, rods and reels, and handlines, hunting some of the largest commercial fish in the world. Every year, these fantastic beasts (Thunnus thynnus) make their way north, following their food to Canada and beyond.
An average mature bluefin is about 6 to 8 feet long and around 500 pounds. The largest Atlantic bluefin catch on record is just shy of 1,500 pounds. In the United States, they are being fished within the management limits.
Our knowledge of the bluefin is still fairly limited. We know the Atlantic stocks have some mix between east and west, but we don’t know how much or why. If you want to know more about them, I suggest following Molly Lutcavage, one of the world’s premier tuna research scientists, who runs the University of Massachusetts Large Pelagics Research Lab in Gloucester, Mass. She and her fellow researchers used decades of tagging studies to discover a bluefin spawning ground on the East Coast that might explain some scientific anomalies.
While I appreciate their mystery and strength, I have to admit that there really is nothing like a bluefin tuna steak. It’s a fish that eats like the best beef I’ve ever had. As much as I love to share healthy fish suppers with my children, this is a meal made for two. I think of it as an opportunity to eat a spicy, peppery dish, made just for the grown-ups.
1 pound sushi-grade bluefin tuna steak, 1 inch thick at room temperature
2 tablespoons peppercorns, roughly crushed
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Optional scallion for garnish
Coat tuna on both sides with sesame oil. Sprinkle with pepper and sesame seeds, pressing down to make them stick. Heat the vegetable oil on high heat in cast iron skillet until almost smoking. Cook the steak for 2 minutes on each side, remove from pan and allow to rest. Garnish with scallion.
1 cup sushi rice
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons prepared wasabi
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
Cook the rice according to directions. Add vinegar, and stir in thoroughly. Mix together the soy sauce, wasabi and honey and top rice with sauce. Garnish with more wasabi and black sesame seeds if desired.
To make little rice patties like these, lightly coat a 1-cup measure with oil, pack in rice and dress with sauce. Turn the cup upside down onto the plate and tap the bottom to release the rice.
10-15 bunches baby bok choi (about 1 pound)
3 cloves garlic, grated
Same amount of fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Saute garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in oil, on high heat for 1-2 minutes. Add bok choi and toss to coat. Add soy sauce, cover, allow to boil/steam on high for 2 minutes. Remove the lid and cook another 3 minutes to reduce the sauce. Finish with pan sauce and more red pepper flakes to taste.