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Notable Nosh: Tuna Tataki

Empire Grill Tuna Tataki

Aside from the odd can for making tuna salad sandwiches, I have only ever eaten tuna raw. With this particular dish, recently sampled at the Empire Grill in Ottawa, I only just managed, barely, to break with that tradition…

In my post featuring Beef Tataki, which explains in a bit more detail the specific Japanese grilling technique in question, I mentioned that the process is sometimes applied to fish, and, as you can see, the tuna in this particular case is very nearly raw all except for a tiny margin around the edges. It is this brief grilling that allows the tuna to develop a range of flavors beyond that of the purely raw article and the Empire Grill managed, I must say to do a very nice job.

The slices of tuna, crusted with white and dark sesame seeds were served over a bed of seaweed dressed with soy and ginger. This salad, which certainly added to the visual appeal of the presentation, was very pleasant in both texture and taste, although I rather suspect that a pre-packaged seaweed was used rather than prepared from scratch. The dark sauce you can see was not mentioned in the menu description but it had a very good umami taste that makes me think that soybean paste may have been present.  In any event, it worked really well with both the fish and the seaweed.

My only real criticism about this dish was that the tuna slices were ever so slightly dry. The waiter confirmed for me that the sesame seeds are pressed into the meat after grilling and I rather think that the restaurant probably prepares a large section of fish then keeps it pressed by wrapping tightly before slicing individual portions as ordered. This would make sense for restaurants to do but it does, if I am right in my guess, result in a slight diminution of the nice, soft texture of a freshly prepared piece. Still, this was really only a minor flaw and I really enjoyed the dish as a whole. I look forward very much to trying at home sometime as soon as fresh tuna appears in our local store…

 

One Comment Post a comment
  1. I’m sure my husband would like this dish but I can’t eat tuna that is raw. Nothing wrong with the taste, it is just my mind telling me it’s raw, it’s raw. 🙂

    February 11, 2014

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