This is a culmination of so many meals, and good times over the years, I lived in Hawaii for a couple of those years, and ate as much Raw Tuna as I could, get, or catch, I learned how to throw a net, clean a fish, prepare it right there on the shore, drink beer, and to love “Kim Chee”, and one of my favorite musical groups, to date, “Cecilio and Kapono”.  I was 13-14 years old, and Hawaii was like a giant playground, everyday I would head to the “4 Mile Beach” in Hilo, with my rescue dog at the time, Snow, a White Samoyed, who lived on my block, who I literally freed, by cutting his rope, that he had been tied to for so long, he had sores on his neck, once I cut him loose, and tryed to get him to “Shoo”, he just followed me around, and needing the company, and protection, I didn’t resist, and figured I’d let him tag along, he was one of the best dogs I ever had. He knew the difference between good, and bad people, making him an great asset, as I was young and on my own. Anyways, we’d find one of our many groups of friends, get settled in, and immediately go swimming in that beautiful, clean, water everyday, Hilo has mostly reef beach’s, with tide pools, and the actual break out about a 1/4 mile out, so with the Angel fish swimming around my head, I would stay in for hours, either just playing around, or learning to spear fish, and throw net, with Snow coming in and out, to cool off every so often, he had all that thick white hair, and I always made sure he kept cool, and drank lots of water. Luckily he loved to swim, so the salt water healed his neck sores, and was a really strong swimmer, he was my best friend, and protector, and I loved him very much.
Learning about, and enjoying the Hawaiian People, once they took me under they’re wing, I became Kamaaina, A Local, they are a fascinating culture, and being great at coping any accent I’ve ever heard, I was speaking Pigeon English in a day, to a tee, and I even made up a background for myself, to endear myself to them, I simply told them I was Portuguese, hence the fair complexion, and they consider the “Port-a-gee”, as a part of they’re culture, they nick named me “Pinky”, as I was always with the bright pink, peeling cheeks, and nose, (who used sunblock back then), I dream of going back to the Islands all the time. Soon.
         I learned so much there, about food, music, and life, my three favorite things! Learning they’re culture was hard at first, they are a hard group to get to know! But friendly, and warm, once you get passed that, and such great cooks, (except for the abundance of SPAM) I mean the stuff in the can, they love it!!! They will eat it for breakfast, w/ eggs for lunch on a sandwich, fried of course, and for dinner if they see fit!!! With all that gorgeous food, with so many types of  Fish, and Mangos  w/ they’re branches hanging almost down to the ground, Macadamia Nuts, Papaya, Gauva growing wild, Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) in such overwhelming amounts…. they’re cookin’ up some SPAM,  very southern-esque and really quite strange. It’s there biggest import!!?  But still, Hawaii No Ka Oi!!!! There is really no where, more beautiful to me. I ate good, and played hard!!
I eventually moved to Kona, and lived in a Hawaiian Village,  on a beach, as a guest, but that’s a whole nother recipe!
         But in recent years I really like Tuna seared rare, w/ a Thick coat of  Black Pepper and just a touch of Kosher salt, The Wasabi Mayo, the Teriyaki Rice Balls are a given, and the Spinach and Sweet Mandarin Orange Salad w/ warm Apricot or Peach Dressing, and toasted Almonds just evens everything out. It is a meal fit for a king, and I hope to make it for one someday!!! And will.

This kind of meal in a good restaurant can run you a pretty penny, and since I can’t afford to go out for something like this, I did my homework, and a lot of research, on sushi grade Tuna, which usually costs at least $16.00 a lb on the low end, and I found a company called Anoya, which “fresh flash freezes” they’re fish, like, as it comes out of the water. Right there on the boat, it is gutted, cleaned and filleted, and into the flash freeze it goes! Amazing! It is also packaged so well, that no air ever touches it. Cool, right? Really cool, because they sell it at my local Kroger Store, it’s $10.99 for 12 oz. and when it goes on sale for, $6.99, which is every couple of months, I buy several bags and put them in the freezer for times like last night, when I wanted something really special to eat! No special occasion……. until I make this! None of this it served piping hot so don’t feel rushed. Plating is very important, presentation in this meal is essential! And always should be!!! Enjoy!

Gather together your ingredients:
Pepper Crusted Tuna:

12 oz. Sushi Grade Tuna (this is enough for two) Keep cold!
1 tube Wasabi (powdered is very strong and hard to work with)
1 TBLS. Mayo
Fresh Ground Black Pepper (lots)
Kosher Salt
Pickled Ginger
Mix equal amounts Wasabi and Mayo and set aside. Keep cold.
Crack a thick layer of Fresh Pepper onto a plate, add a little Kosher salt, a tsp to the whole plate of pepper is fine. Set aside
The Tuna is the last thing to cook as it takes less than 3 minutes.
But having all these ready makes it quicker.

Teriyaki Rice Balls:

2 cups sushi or short grain rice, cooked in advance to cool, and form into balls, place in a 350º for 10-15 minutes, in a greased foil lined pan
To form into balls easily, put some rice vinegar in a small bowl dip hands in and cover w/ vinager so balls don’t stick to hands and you can pack them tighter, roll in between hands to make balls. Bake.
Remove from oven and set aside. The reason for baking these is to harden the outside of the rice balls so they don’t just soak up the Teriyaki Glaze, and turn to mush. Clever.

Teriyaki Glaze:

Teriyaki sauce, homemade is best:
Put in a small pan on med low heat:
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 TBLS pressed garlic
1 TBLS fresh ginger grated finely
1/4 cup Soy sauce
1 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
Toasted Sesame Seeds
Stirring to dissolve sugars, when it boils, lower heat and cook stirring 5 minutes pour into bowl to cool,
Stiring to cool or even set in fridge for a few minutes, it will get thick as it cools, have a brush ready, to paint on teriyaki, when on plate.

Spinach Mandarin Orange Salad w/ Warm Peach Dressing:

Put in a salad bowl:
 1 package Baby Spinach 
 1 can Mandarin Oranges
 1 small handful Cilantro, just a little to break up in salad (and a few sprigs for garnish on finished Tuna)
In a small microwave bowl:
3 TBLS. Peach Preserves
1-2 TBLS. Rice Vinegar
1/2 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1/2 tsp Chile Paste
Heat in Micro for 30 seconds at a time until hot, cover loosely,it will be just right by the time you “plate up”
Toss w/ Dressing, set aside.
1/2 cup Toasted Almond Slivers, spinkle a little on salad, after dressing, and tossing, and plating

Now coat the bottom of a non-stick pan w/ light oil, over med high heat, let it get hot, but not smoking.
Coat tuna with Pepper by pressing onto pepper plate on both sides, press with palms lightly and lay in pan, repeat until all pieces are in pan and quickly shake pan to loosen fish, or if you feel more comfy use a spatula, but be careful, cook 1 1/2 minute on each side on med high heat, shaking after turning as well, don’t let it stick.
Remove from pan immediately to plate, add two rice balls and make a nice pile of salad, add a pinch of pinch of pickled ginger,  brush rice balls w/ teriyaki, and sprinkle w/ Sesame seeds, sprinkle salad w/ Toasted Almonds, put a dollup of Wasabi Mayo on Tuna , Garnish w Cilantro , put chopsticks on plate and serve, and be ready for the compliments! Who ever you serve this to will follow you anywhere!!! So be careful!!! Serve with Chopsticks and Pickled ginger , and extra Wasabi for me!!!

And as always, Enjoy!!!
© Jennifer Green Alger 2010