culinary nutrition

Tuna, the perfect protein?

What constitutes a perfect protein for human consumption? A protein that has all the essential amino acids, oxygen carrying molecules, optimum ratio of water to protein, optimum proportion of fatty acids, good ratio of fat to protein for easy assimilation; abundant minerals. Tuna in this case is hard to beat. Unlike many other available commercial seafood, the flesh of Tuna has a pigment that ranges from pink to red due to high amount of myoglobin. This iron- and oxygen-binding protein allows Tuna to maintain warm body temperature in very cold waters and have a tremendous production of energy allowing the fish move at highway speeds.

All of this makes Tuna a superb dietary source of protein, varied fatty acids and energy building minerals. The only caveat, that due to the high levels of mercury it is not a good idea to eat this animal more then couple of times a week. At the moment, the Tuna containing the least amount of the potent neurotoxin is Yellow fin. Luckily it is readily available in most seafood markets. However, be aware that the Tuna served in most Japanese restaurants is a Big Eye and Blue Fin variety, both high in mercury. If your detoxification system is challenged as it is, I would advice to stay away from consuming these delicious, but toxic offerings.

Yellow Fin Tuna with Melange of Seasonal Vegetables.

* This easy and delicious recipe will easily serve 2.
* When seasoning with salt during the cooking process, keep in mind that the bacon and cheese will contribute to over all amount of salt in the dish.

Cookware needed:
1 Heavy bottom saute pan, preferably made of cast iron, enameled cast iron or stainless steel. 3 Warm dinner plates ( place the plates in the low temperature oven for 7 to 10 minutes or if for some reason you still have microwave kicking around, finally there is a suitable task for it: a minute of radiation will do.

For the Tuna:
8 oz of fresh Yellow Fin tuna cut from the loin
2 thick slices of cured bacon (center cut is best)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the vegetable melange:
1 large shallot diced
1 medium size zucchini halved lengthwise and sliced in 1/4 thin slices
Hand full or 6-8 oz of Cremini or White Button mushrooms sliced in 1/4 thin slices
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Blood orange, tangerine or lemon
1 Tbsp (or to taste) of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 Tbsp of chopped parsley salt and pepper to taste

Heat the pan on a medium flame for a minute or so line it with bacon and render the fat taking care of the temperature so the bacon doesn't burn.
Meanwhile season the Tuna with salt, pepper and crushed fennel seeds on both sides, taking care of even distribution. When bacon is done, remove it onto a warm plate lined with a paper towel. Place the Tuna into the pan and cook it for a minute on each side. Remove the tuna and set it on a warm plate.
Add the butter to the pan, let it melt and add the shallot. Cook for couple of minutes and then add the rest of the vegetables, salt, pepper. Saute lightly till the vegetables soften up and pick up all that residual flavor left in the pan from cooking the bacon and the Tuna, about 10 minutes.
Chop the bacon in to bits. Add the cheese and the bacon bits to the vegetables once they are done cooking. Divide the Tuna and the vegetables between the 2 remaining plates, squeeze your choice of citrus, sprinkle the olive oil and parsley.

By Eli Katz / 05.24.11

Culinary Nutrition