I grew up in the heart of Wisconsin and now live in Minnesota, both unique places where people grill outside all year long. Even in the coldest temperatures, a true upper Midwesterner shovels a path through the snow to their grill, throws on a hat and a flannel shirt, and drinks a beer or brandy to stay warm while flipping burgers and tending racks of ribs.
But for the fair-weather grillers of the world (people most everywhere else, I think), the warmer temperatures finally gracing the Northern Hemisphere officially kicks off grilling season.
My dad has been known to stand outside in a blizzard for the perfect grilled shrimp, but thankfully, the whether on my trip back home over Mother's Day weekend was far from blizzardlike. It was in the mid-60s, sunny and lovely. Perfect for grilling! We found beautiful wild-caught sashimi-grade tuna steaks at Festival Foods for only $9.99/pound. The meat was bright pink and dense, and each steak was nearly 2 inches thick! We seasoned them simply and grilled them over pecan wood for a sweet, lightly smoky flavor.
The tuna was perfect. We served it with baked sweet potatoes, pan-seared asparagus, and a light and crunchy salad of grapefruit, fennel, and onion.. The meal was so easy to prepare and so delicious, I knew I wanted to share some of it with you. And thus, here are two recipes: Easy Grilled Tuna and Grapefruit-Fennel Salad.
Whip out that grill, and get cooking!
Easy Grilled Tuna (gluten-free, ACD)
4 main course servings
- 1 large filet wild caught tuna, about 2-inches thick (sashimi grade if possible)
- unrefined salt
- chili powder or another paprika-based all-purpose seasoning blend
- granulated garlic or garlic powder
- optional: about 1/4 cup untreated wood chips, for a smoky flavor (we used pecan wood, but apple, pear, cherry, or alder would also be good choices)
- extra virgin olive oil and lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
Slice the filet horizontally with a large sharp knife to create two 1-inch thick filets. Pat fish dry with paper towel and place in a shallow dish. Lightly sprinkle both sides of each filet with chili powder/seasoning, garlic powder, and unrefined salt. We chose to lightly season it to let the natural flavor of the tuna shine through; if you want to have a more aggressive flavor you may want to really go crazy with the chili powder.
Cover dish and place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, to allow flavors to penetrate the fish. You could grill it immediately if you're in a hurry, but the flavor will be less developed.
If using wood chips to lightly smoke the food, about 30 minutes before you grill, soak your wood chips in a small bowl of water. After 30 minutes, drain wood chips and put in a small tin (an empty tuna can works great) or in a small tray made of aluminum foil. Place wood chip container on coals or over burner.
Start the fire or kick on the gas, and let your grill heat up to around 400º F.
Once grill is heated, lightly oil the grates and put on the tuna filets. Grill for 5-6 minutes on each side for a 1-inch thick steak. When done, meat should be firm and cooked through - don't overcook, or it will be dry!. If you prefer it merely seared on the outside and still quite pink in the middle, then reduce grilling time to about 4 minutes on each side.
Immediately remove tuna steaks from grill and let rest for for a few minutes, then serve immediately or chill and use for salads. Tuna is excellent drizzle with a little high-quality extra virgin olive oil and lemon.
To make it a meal, add sauteed or roasted vegetables, a raw salad or slaw (like the Grapefruit-Fennel Salad below!), and a grain pilaf or cooked sweet potatoes.
Grapefruit-Fennel Salad (vegan, raw, gluten-free, ACD)
4 side servings
- 1 large ruby red grapefruit
- 1 medium fennel bulb
- 1/2 small sweet Vidalia onion
- drizzle lime-infused extra virgin olive oil or regular extra virgin olive oil
- unrefined salt and freshly cracked pepper
- handful raw or toasted sunflower seeds
Supreme the grapefruit with a small, sharp knife. If you have never done this before, check out this awesome tutorial - easy! Thinly slice the fennel bulb and thinly slice the onion with a very sharp knife. Toss three ingredients together in a bowl, and drizzle with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Salad can be served immediately or chilled and served within 1 day. Sprinkle sunflower seeds over salad immediately before serving.