michael mina’s tuna tartare
I have been meaning to write about the dinner B cooked a couple of weekends back for some friends at ours. He basically cooked two days straight but the results were well worth it – gougeres to go with bubbly before the main event, then a refreshing tuna tartare with asian flavours to start, followed by lovely delicate crab and prawn ravioli in a rich and creamy prawn bisque, a main of roast chicken (done the thomas keller way – roasted after soaking in brine for 6 hours) with braised baby gems, carrots, peas and bacon and finally B’s signature earl grey tea creme brulee with some chocolates from l’artisan du chocolat (their lemongrass salted caramels are heavenly!) It was a fantastic evening, and as usual after the first course I was so busy enjoying myself I totally forgot to take any photos…well, one is a start!
We first tasted this tuna tartare when we visited Michael Mina’s back in March and were surprised by how well the pear (and other ingredients) complemented and lifted the tuna. We loved it so much we wanted to recreate it at home so I had a look around online and managed to track it down on the MM website. Below is essentially the recipe from the site with a couple of ingredient substitutions.
Tartare of Ahi Tuna
(from michael mina at the bellagio)
450g sashimi grade tuna
¼ tbsp garlic, finely minced
2 pears (we used conference pears), skins removed and cut into small dice
1 tbsp lemon juice, mixed with 1 cup water for holding pears
2 green chillies
2 red chillies
¼ bunch mint, picked from stems and cut into chiffonade
6 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
¾ cup sesame oil, chili infused
8 slices of white bread, crust removed
4 quail eggs*, separated, yolks reserved (whole)
1 ½ tbsp salt
½ tbsp white pepper
2 tbsp japanese sansho chili powder (MM uses ancho chili)
Clean the tuna and cut into small cubes. Be sure that no sinew is left behind. Keep chilled in the refrigerator while you prep the other ingredients. Remove the seeds and pith from the chilies and reserve. Dice the chilies into a fine brunoise and mix the colours together.
Add the chili seeds and scraps to the sesame oil. Heat very lightly and allow the chilies to infuse the oil. Strain through a fine mesh strainer when the desired heat is achieved. Cool while you prepare the remainder of the ingredients. Toast the bread and cut into triangles.
Be sure that the plates are well chilled to ensure the dish is served cold. Working with 2½”x3″ ring mold pack the tuna firmly and evenly in the mold. Unmold into the center of the plate being sure to make a small indention with your finger in the center of the top. This will give the egg a resting place. Drain the pears thoroughly and place 2 tbsp at the 9 o’clock position. Place about1 ½ tbsp of the minced chilies at 7 o’clock, 1/16 tsp of garlic at 5 o’clock and 1 ½ tbsp of pine nuts at 3 o’clock. Adjust these amounts depending on your personal taste. Season with about 1/3 tbsp salt and a pinch of white pepper over the top of each plate. Sprinkle evenly with sansho chilli and mint. Place a quail egg yolk atop of the tuna mold. Drizzle 3-4 tbsp of the infused sesame oil on top of and around each plate. Serve with toast points.
They recommend to use a fork and spoon and mix the ingredients vigorously into front of the guests. But we just let our guests mix it up themselves – it’s more fun that way, plus they can easily omit any ingredient they don’t fancy having.
* you may want to have more quails eggs as backups as they are quite delicate and can be tricky to work with – I broke quite a few yolks while helping B separate them!