Tuna, I hardly know’a
I have been thinking about going through my Damn Good Food cookbook and recreating some of the recipes using ingredients I can find here in Tokyo. I decided I would start off easy and just make some mustard using local rice wine vinegar, but then I went to the grocery store and my plans changed.
I go to the grocery store almost every day. Usually it is the same Parque store that is closest to us. We even have their point card and I’m told that I have over 500 points. Once I figure out how to use them that will turn into ¥500 off my next shopping trip. When I walked in yesterday there was a huge line leading back to the butcher’s counter and someone rattling off excited Japanese using a bullhorn. The aisles of the store wind a bit so I couldn’t see what the line was for, but it must be something good. I should have just got in the line and rolled the dice, but I am not that guy. I walked around the other direction to take a peek. At the front of the line were three men. One was using a handheld microphone like a game show host (not a bullhorn) and was either describing the scene or just trying to sell us something. The second man was asking each person a question as they reached the front of the line and the third man was carving up beautiful tuna steaks trying to keep up with the line.
I got in line.
As I got close to the front of the line I listened closely to the question being asked, but it was no use I couldn’t understand what he was saying. When I got to the front before he could say anything I just pointed at the woman in front of me and said “Onaji.” The Same. He smirked, turned to the the tuna carver , and told him, “Get a load of this guy, he want’s ‘Onaji.'” And then he chuckled. I have no idea what he really said, but he was definitely amused. I felt vindicated when the Japanese salaryman behind me asked for the same thing as well.
I ended up with a great deal on a tuna steak that would be just right for four Tokyo-size portions of Charred Tuna with Buerre Noisette. As we are fond of saying since our move, “Everything here is smaller.” Tokyo-size portions are about half of American sized potions, but it is usually just the right amount. This is the first time I’ve served this dish to Michael and Sarah and the verdict was a split vote. Sarah ate her entire steak before I even noticed and Michael gave it a thumbs down after just one bite.
I didn’t change the recipe too much to account for locale, but I took a chance and replaced some of the butter with olive oil. Butter is outrageously expensive on an island with very few cows so I brushed the steaks with olive oil instead of butter before adding the spice rub. When I seared the tuna I used half butter and half oil. For the burnt butter sauce I stayed pure and just used butter. I didn’t think of this until it was too late, but I could probably replace some or all of the hot paprika with ichimi togarashi. Maybe next time.