Fennel-crusted ahi tuna
with lemon aioli over couscous
Originally printed in Bon Apetit Magazine, August 2005
O.K., I've got to be honest. I'm not a fan of couscous, and room temperature fish just seemed... well... wrong. But the fish DID tast excellent and my wife insisted I keep this one in here. Since she's the web techie I guess I've got to follow her lead here.
Makes 6 servings.
Fennel & Pepper Spice Rub
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 carrot, peeled, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1/2 pound sugar snap peas
- 2 cups couscous
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 2 1/2 pounds ahi tuna steaks (about 1 1/4 inches thick)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Combine first 3 ingredients in heavy small skillet. Toast over medium heat until fragrant, shaking skillet occasionally, about 3 minutes. Grind spice mixture in spice grinder. Transfer to bowl; mix in 1 teaspoon salt.
Whisk mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, and half of garlic in small bowl. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store spice mixture airtight at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate lemon aioli.)
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrot and onion and sauté until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add thyme and remaining garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add 2 1/4 cups water and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to boil. Add sugar snap peas and cook until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Using slotted spoon, transfer peas to plate. Immediately add couscous to water in skillet and stir to combine. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork. Transfer to bowl and cool completely. Mix in sugar snap peas and dill. Season to taste with pepper. (Couscous can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
Prepare barbecue (high heat). Coat tuna with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Sprinkle with spice mixture. Grill tuna until seared outside and rare in center, about 3 minutes per side. Refrigerate uncovered for 1 hour, then cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Spoon couscous onto plates. Top with tuna and drizzle with lemon aioli.