Thursday, December 1, 2011

Deconstructed Tuna Casserole

So, "deconstructed" this, that, and the other thing is popular in hipster food circles nowadays. Or maybe it used to be but now it's passé - I can't keep up. The idea is you take some well-known, boring recipe - often some kind of comfort food - and make something that has nothing in common with it except the ingredient list, except you supercharge it with all the trendiest, most expensive varieties of the ingredients you can find. And you put it all together with a fancy presentation including lots of verticality. Vertical food is very trendy as well.

Here's my take on deconstructing your mom's tuna casserole - you know, the one you make with canned tuna, canned peas, a can of Campbell's cream-of-substance soup, noodles and crushed-up potato chips. Like a rocket, you assemble it in stages.

Miso rice

3/4 cup dry basmati rice
1-1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp dark miso paste

Combine, bring to a boil, stir to dissolve the miso, reduce heat and simmer covered for 10-12 minutes.

Citrus cream sauce with vegetables

1 ear sweet corn
juice and zest of 1 orange
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
handful frozen green peas
handful chick peas

Boil the corn for 25 minutes, drain, allow to cool, then slice the kernels off the cob. In a small saucepan melt the butter, stir in the flour, and simmer over very low heat for 3-5 minutes until it has a nutty aroma. Add the orange juice, stirring until it thickens into an even paste. Stir in the milk, raise the heat to a boil and then back off to a simmer again, stirring occasionally to keep it smooth as it thickens. Add the corn, peas, chick peas, orange zest, and a pinch of salt. Simmer for 10 minutes then cover and turn off the heat.

Parmesan cookies

Put a silpat or a piece of parchment paper in a baking pan. Plop a generous tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese and spread it into a thin circle. Make 2 or 3 of them. Then put the pan right under your broiler at maximum for no more than 2 or 3 minutes until the cheese starts to brown. Watch carefully because the difference between GBD and charred is seconds only. Once cool you'll have crispy cheese biscuits.

Seared tuna and grilled portobello mushrooms

1 sushi-grade tuna steak, 4-6 ounces
toasted sesame oil
chili oil
sesame seeds
2 large portobello caps
olive oil
Worcestershire sauce

Thaw the tuna in your fridge, and be prepared to devote 24 hours to that. If you try to cheat by thawing it at room temperature you'll be disappointed with the result. Once thawed, put it in a bowl and drizzle on a little chili oil and a little toasted sesame oil, just enough to coat. Marinate in the fridge for an hour.

Get a dry, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet rocket-hot. Sprinkle the tuna with sesame seeds and cook it for 2 minutes on each side. While the tuna is resting, add a little olive oil to the skillet and grill the mushrooms for 2 minutes a side, hitting each side with a couple dashes of Worcestershire. When the tuna has cooled, slice it thinly across the grain.

Buttery enoki mushrooms

Saute a couple of ounces of enoki mushrooms gently in a little butter.

Final assembly

Press the rice into an even layer on a small serving platter. Place the mushrooms gill-side up on the rice and stuff them generously with the vegetables in cream sauce. Spread the enoki mushrooms over the sauce, and arrange the sliced tuna artistically on the enokis. Top each portobello with a Parmesan cookie set at a jaunty angle. Sprinkle red onion around the edge of the platter.

I meant to take the picture before we dug in and ruined the presentation, but oops.
Pretentious? You bet. Delicious? Indeed.

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