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Pan-seared tuna with papaya mustard

I do love tuna especially if it is made well. A chef highlights his creativity and skill with a well-cooked tuna dish, and here is a dish that is simple, yet so elegant.

For this recipe, you need to splurge on sushi-grade tuna. You want the meat to be perfect and odourless.

The art in this dish is getting the tuna to be browned on the outside and raw inside. It takes a very hot pan and quick cooking to make this happen perfectly. The tuna is delicious, light and fresh and is accompanied by sweet-spicy papaya mustard. The combination is lovely and the flavours explode on your palate.

This cookbook is beautiful, packed with gorgeous photographs, and loaded with outstanding recipes. I will admit, the recipes are not the easiest to make, but the recipes always turn out spectacular. I did have the opportunity to enjoy Vong's cuisine at his restaurant in Chicago, and the experience was a delight. The flavours were wonderful, and the French training is evident in the balance of flavours and beautiful presentations. This is my go-to cookbook for contemporary Thai cuisine, one that belongs in every serious chef's kitchen.

For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.


For the papaya mustard:

2 cups chopped ripe papaya

2 tablespoons light honey

2 tablespoons dry Coleman's mustard

1-2 tablespoons wholegrain Dijon mustard

Lime juice

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Salt, to taste

2 large tuna steaks, sushi grade, about 1 lb total

Olive oil

Salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Black sesame seeds, lightly toasted

A few drops of roasted sesame oil

To make the papaya mustard, heat the honey in a small pan and when it bubbles add the papaya. Cook the papaya for about 4-5 minutes on low heat till the papaya has broken down and is gooey. Add the mustard, lime juice, rice vinegar, and salt and mix well. Taste for spiciness from the mustard and salt. Take off the heat and set aside.

Add a light drizzle of oil to a large frying pan and heat on high. Rub the tuna with salt and pepper. Add the tuna steaks and cook on one side for a minute. It would be best if you were watching the side of the steak to make sure the meat in the centre is not getting cooked through. Flip and cook the second side for an additional 45 seconds, till browned. Again watch the centre to make sure you are cooking the steak through. Remove from the pan onto a cutting board.

Spread the warmed papaya mustard sauce on a large platter in the centre. Cut the steaks into thin slices and top on the mustard sauce. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and drizzle a few drops of sesame oil. Serve immediately.

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