High quality, raw tuna is one of the most delicious fish treats I can imagine. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to excellent quality product and usually pan-grill tuna steaks, keeping them rare inside. When I saw at Shizuoka Gourmet deep-fried tuna chunks on a bed of red onions I knew I had to prepare them as soon as possible. Despite my seasoning modification, I loved the resulting combination of different flavours and thought this snack was perfect to enjoy with a drink or a starter.
The delicious tuna snack, called “pon kara maguro”, is served in Sushi Ko, an excellent restaurant in Shizuoka I learnt about in a review by Robert-Gilles (from the above-mentioned Shizuoka Gourmet) who was lucky to enjoy the dinner in this extraordinary place. Apart from a crisp bed of sliced red onion, the original version features also momiji oroshi (grated daikon with chilli) and chopped green onion (or rather “negi”). I didn’t have momiji oroshi, so I decided to replace it with raimu koshou, a homemade replacement for yuzu koshou, the famous Japanese yuzu zest and chilli paste. As for shiso leaves, their pungency usually pairs well with fried dishes and it did this time too. In spite of these modifications, the final result was fantastic and definitely worth repeating. (I think it’s also an excellent idea to use frozen and then thawed tuna.) Thank you so much, Robert-Gilles, for this excellent idea.
Visit Shizuoka Gourmet to check the restaurant’s address, to read the whole review and other fascinating food, sake and Japan – related posts that will make you travel far far away to Shizuoka prefecture.
Actually, thanks to Robert-Gilles I was reminded of deep-fried tuna coated in sesame seeds (Maguro no Goma Age, or Sesame Coated Tuna Nuggets) I posted a long time ago and have completely forgotten:
Here is the very easy Lemon Zest and Chilli Paste recipe, a twist on the Japanese Yuzu Koshou:
WARNING: If by deep-frying you expect to obtain juicy and super soft tuna, beware: the resulting texture should rather be compared chicken than soft fish.
TIPS: Deep-frying scares many people, but becomes easy and quick with time. Everyone has different preferences of course, but the basic rule to observe is to make sure the food is completely dry before it’s fried (or breaded) to minimise the risk of oil splashes. Personally I prefer deep-frying in a small cooking pan (I have one which is only for deep-frying) using a small amount of oil. I also place the pan as far as possible from myself, just in case the oil splashes. If you are really not comfortable with deep-frying or don’t have enough oil, you can of course shallow fry this dish.
Deep-fried food should “swim” easily, so do not overcrowd the pan (otherwise the temperature becomes lower, the food fries slowly and absorbs more oil).
You will probable have to fry in several batches (unless you have a big deep-frying dish or make a small batch). In order to make sure all the tuna pieces are hot when served, I place a baking dish in the oven at 100°C/212°F, line it with paper napkins and put there deep-fried bits, one by one, until the whole frying process is finished.
Frying oil can be used as long as it doesn’t darken and is always filtered after each use (I usually throw it away after three times, but it depends on what you fry… Fish for example can make the oil smell strong, so keep it only for fish or seafood frying).
Preparation: about 20 minutes
Ingredients (serves two as a small snack or starter):
200 g/about 7 oz fresh tuna cut into bite sized pieces
2 small or medium red onions
yuzukoshou (if you cannot get it or make it, try my replacement version made with lime zest instead of yuzu zest)
chopped shiso or chopped green onions
deep-frying oil (i.e. oil that supports well high temperatures, for example grape seed oil or peanut oil)
Heat the oil in a small pan.
In the meantime peel and slice the red onions.
Place them on two small plates.
Chop the shiso (or green onion).
Season the tuna chunks with salt and coat in cornstarch, shaking off excess starch.
Check if the oil is hot enough (it’s hot enough when a tiny piece of bread thrown into the fat doesn’t “sink” and stays on the surface, instantly browning).
Deep fry the tuna chunks for about 30 seconds in small batches (the time depends on the temperature of your oil and the size of your pieces).
Place the tuna chunks on paper towels to remove excess oil.
Serve on the sliced onion, topped with shiso and yuzu koshou (or raimu koshou).
You can also serve some soy sauce as a dip.