NUT-CRUSTED CAJUN TUNA
OK, feeling expansive and ready for a feast tonight, we decided to pull cork on a couple of good wines and throw together something creative involving fish, testing the hypothesis about "white wine with fish."
The wines were a couple of fairly decent items that had risen to the top of the tasting queue: A high-end Georges Duboeuf Cru Beaujolais (Domaine des Rosiers '94 Moulin-A-Vent) and one of my absolute white wine favorites, the new-in-this-market '95 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Detailed tasting notes will be found in the forum's Tasting Notes section.
For the fish, I started with a lovely 1 1/2-inch slab of fresh tuna and gave it a creative treatment based very loosely on a Paul Prudhomme dish and inspired by a recent conversation in this section about the happy marriage between cumin, cinnamon and cayenne. Thunderstorms and showers in the area ruled out grilling this evening, so I went with a pan sautee.
The results, quick and easy and fast, definitely passed muster with us and the cats.
Take one thick tuna steak (or, for that matter, just about any thick, boneless, skinless fish fillet or steak), rinse and pat it dry, and coat it liberally with a mixture of 2 parts ground cumin, 2 parts cinnamon and 1 part cayenne. Coarsely chop enough dry-roasted, skinned hazelnuts (or you could use pecans) and press them into both sides of the fish steak.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil with a slice or two of fresh ginger and a couple of smashed garlic cloves in a nonstick sautee pan until the ginger and garlic are sizzling and highly aromatic, and slap in the fish steak. Cook, turning occasionally, over high heat until it's well seared on both sides, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and continue cooking, turning the fish occasionally, for 12-15 minutes -- depending on thickness -- until it's crunchy on the outside and still rare-pink at the center.
Both wines went well with the fish, but Mary and I disagreed as to which went better, suggesting that personal taste is a key issue here. I thought the Cru Beaujolais was startlingly good with it but that it brought out the citric fruitiness in the Sauvignon Blanc to the extent that the wine almost overshadowed the fish. Mary thought the red worked but that it added a flavor component that didn't fit, but loved the white. Go figure ...