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Kombu-Cured Tuna Poke

Why This Recipe Works

by Sasha Marx

If you haven’t gotten the memo, Hawaiian poke is so hot right now. Poke (pronounced in two syllables like the Poké in Pokémon) translates from Hawaiian as “to slice or cut” and refers to a raw fish salad that’s usually served as a snack or appetizer. While the components of this popular dish can vary (Chipotle-esque customization is part of the appeal at fast-casual poke restaurants that are popping up all over the U.S.), one of the classic poke combinations involves diced raw tuna, sweet onion, chopped nuts, and seaweed tossed in a soy-sesame dressing. We wanted to up the seaweed factor. Beyond increasing the amount of seaweed in the salad to give it more presence, we also cure the tuna by wrapping it in kombu (the Japanese kelp used to make dashi broth). This is a simple Japanese technique called kobu-jime, in which a piece of raw fish is sandwiched between pieces of kombu and left to cure overnight. In that short period of time, the kombu (with a little help from a light salting of the fish) draws out moisture from the fish, firming up the flesh, and gives the fish an umami boost by infusing it with kombu’s natural glutamic acid. This cured tuna takes our poke to another level. Thanks for the kelp, kombu!

To make this a main course, serve over steamed white rice. Kombu is a type of kelp commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It is one of the two primary ingredients used to make traditional dashi broth, where it provides body and savory depth. (The other is bonito flakes.) Kombu can be purchased in well-stocked grocery stores or online. You can buy it by clicking here. Freshness is key when serving fish raw or cured. The flesh of raw tuna should appear moist and shiny and feel firm to the touch. If possible, ask your fishmonger to press the tuna with a finger—the flesh should spring right back. Try to have the fishmonger slice steaks to order that have little to no connective tissue, since that can be unpleasantly chewy when eaten raw. Wakame is a type of seaweed commonly used in Japanese and Korean cuisines. It is most recognizable as the leafy green seaweed swimming in your miso soup. It can be purchased in well-stocked grocery stores or online. You can buy it by clicking here. Hijiki is a type of seaweed commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It is often added to soups, cooked vegetables, and rice. Hijiki is more mild than kombu or wakame (the leafy green seaweed swimming in your miso soup) and adds an understated vegetal sea flavor without being briny. It can be purchased in well-stocked grocery stores or online. You can buy it by clicking here. Honey can be substituted for the corn syrup. Either option will provide a hint of sweetness to the dressing, as well as added body and sheen.

Photography by Steve Klise
Food Styling by Marie Piraino

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
2/3 cup (4 2/3 ounces) plus 2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Instructions

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 to 3 as a main course

We prefer whole milk in this recipe, but 1 or 2 percent low-fat milk may be substituted. Do not substitute frozen cherries for the fresh cherries.

1. Adjust oven racks to lowest and upper-middle positions; place 12-inch skillet on lower rack and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place cherries, cut side up, on sheet. Roast cherries on upper rack until just tender and cut sides look dry, about 15 minutes. Transfer cherries to medium bowl, toss with lemon juice, and let cool for 5 minutes. Combine 2 teaspoons flour and cinnamon in small bowl; dust flour mixture evenly over cherries and toss to coat thoroughly.

2. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, 2/3 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt in large bowl until smooth and pale, about 1 minute. Whisk in remaining 1/2 cup flour until smooth. Whisk in cream and milk until incorporated.

3. Remove skillet (skillet handle will be hot) from oven and set on wire rack. Add butter and swirl to coat bottom and sides of skillet (butter will melt and brown quickly). Pour batter into skillet and arrange cherries evenly on top (some will sink). Transfer skillet to lower rack and bake until clafouti puffs and turns golden brown (edges will be dark brown) and center registers 195 degrees, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating skillet halfway through baking. Transfer skillet to wire rack and let cool for 25 minutes. Sprinkle clafouti evenly with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar. Slice into wedges and serve.

4. Adjust oven racks to lowest and upper-middle positions; place 12-inch skillet on lower rack and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place cherries, cut side up, on sheet. Roast cherries on upper rack until just tender and cut sides look dry, about 15 minutes. Transfer cherries to medium bowl, toss with lemon juice, and let cool for 5 minutes. Combine 2 teaspoons flour and cinnamon in small bowl; dust flour mixture evenly over cherries and toss to coat thoroughly.

5. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, 2/3 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt in large bowl until smooth and pale, about 1 minute. Whisk in remaining 1/2 cup flour until smooth. Whisk in cream and milk until incorporated.

6. Remove skillet (skillet handle will be hot) from oven and set on wire rack. Add butter and swirl to coat bottom and sides of skillet (butter will melt and brown quickly). Pour batter into skillet and arrange cherries evenly on top (some will sink). Transfer skillet to lower rack and bake until clafouti puffs and turns golden brown (edges will be dark brown) and center registers 195 degrees, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating skillet halfway through baking. Transfer skillet to wire rack and let cool for 25 minutes. Sprinkle clafouti evenly with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar. Slice into wedges and serve.

7. Adjust oven racks to lowest and upper-middle positions; place 12-inch skillet on lower rack and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place cherries, cut side up, on sheet. Roast cherries on upper rack until just tender and cut sides look dry, about 15 minutes. Transfer cherries to medium bowl, toss with lemon juice, and let cool for 5 minutes. Combine 2 teaspoons flour and cinnamon in small bowl; dust flour mixture evenly over cherries and toss to coat thoroughly.

8. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, 2/3 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt in large bowl until smooth and pale, about 1 minute. Whisk in remaining 1/2 cup flour until smooth. Whisk in cream and milk until incorporated.

9. Remove skillet (skillet handle will be hot) from oven and set on wire rack. Add butter and swirl to coat bottom and sides of skillet (butter will melt and brown quickly). Pour batter into skillet and arrange cherries evenly on top (some will sink). Transfer skillet to lower rack and bake until clafouti puffs and turns golden brown (edges will be dark brown) and center registers 195 degrees, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating skillet halfway through baking. Transfer skillet to wire rack and let cool for 25 minutes. Sprinkle clafouti evenly with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar. Slice into wedges and serve.

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