September, as always, was a busy month, compounded — in a good, happy, lucky way — by our move to Manhattan. Which is probably why this past Sunday, our first completely free day in what felt like weeks, Andy turned to me and said “Why do I feel like I still don’t know my own kitchen?” I knew what he meant, I’ve been using it more than him, but my cooking has definitely been different in the apartment. Cooking for two, instead of four, is obviously a big change from the summer — without the
beasts girls around to feed, we have become Olympic-level last-minute planners. The stakes feel lower, so it’s often glorified eggs or a vegetarian soup that at least one voracious child would’ve responded to with “so what’s the next course?” Another difference? We are now surrounded by so much excellent takeout and prepared food that I feel almost guilty if I’m not tapping away on that Seamless app I finally downloaded. It also means I’m very into halfway-homemade cooking — I’ll pick up a few falafel balls at Sido, or some vegetable fritters at Zabar’s (they were good!), or a poached salmon at Citarella then build dinner around them. Last week, I flaked that salmon, tossed it with cooked black quinoa, corn kernels, slow-roasted tomatoes, chopped basil, and a creamy dressing (just one dollop of mayo in my all-purpose dressing did the trick) and, to call my own number here, our dinner absolutely slayed. Official recipe coming soon, but it seems so self-explanatory, that maybe you don’t even need it.
All this to say, since Sunday was free, we were determined to be intentional about Sunday Dinner, doing a proper stock-the-pantry-and-fridge grocery shop, then picking up apples, delicata squash, lots of greens and a beautiful piece of tuna at the 79th Street Greenmarket. As luck would have it, Eric Ripert’s new book Seafood Simple had just arrived in the apartment, so it didn’t take long to figure out how to turn that tuna into dinner. The book lives up to its title, which is an extraordinary task given that Ripert, the Michelin-starred chef from New York’s Le Bernardin, is universally regarded as the LeBron James of Fish. (Or given how long the chef’s been at it — decades — maybe we should be saying that LeBron is the Eric Ripert of basketball?) The book completely demystifies seafood preparation, organizing the recipes by technique — poached, steamed, fried, broiled, etc. — with helpful step-by-step photo tutorials scattered throughout. It’s really a must-own for anyone serious about seafood, or come to think of it, for anyone who is intimidated by seafood and is looking for a little hand-holding. It’s one of the few books that is appropriate for both kinds of home cook. Exhibit A: This absurdly easy, restaurant-style herb-crusted tuna.
Herb-Crusted Yellowfin Tuna
From Seafood Simple, by Eric Ripert
Cut the tuna to a 1-inch thickness — anything bigger causes the crust to become too dry and the middle too cold. The tuna is best served warm an rare to medium-rare. Serves 4
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons good-quality soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4 yellowfin tuna steaks (7 ounces each), 1 inch thick, at room temperature (we were only cooking for two, which is why you only see a 12-ounce-ish steak up there)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup herbes de Provence
2 cups mesclun
Canola oil for grilling
Preheat an outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan (or cast iron pan) to high heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce, and ginger. Set the dressing aside.
Season the tuna with sea salt and white pepper, then coat both sides with herbes de Provence, pressing firmly so that the herbs adhere. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the tuna.
Lightly season the mesclun with sea salt and white pepper, then toss it in a bowl with a few tablespoons of the dressing.
When the grill/pan is hot, use a pastry brush to apply a small amount of canola oil to the grate/pan. Place the steaks on the hot grill/pan and cook for 1 minute. Gently turn the fish over and cook for 1 minute more. A metal skewer inserted into the thickest part of the fish for 5 seconds should feel warm when touched to your wrist. Remove to a cutting board.
Using a very sharp knife, cut the tuna into 1/2-inch thick slices. Evenly divide and fan the slices on four plates, then pile the salad next to the tuna. Spoon a little more dressing around the tuna and serve immediately.
Note: We added a watermelon radish to the salad and also made a side of sushi rice.