Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Tuna has been a battleground in our house. Madame likes the canned variety (aka catfood in my book), and I like it fresh, preferably raw. So how to create a rapprochment because after all it can be pretty good for us. Tuna salad using fresh tuna sounds like a good idea, but what about the texture with all that mayo? We realized that mashed avocado is about the same texture as mayonnaise and better tasting too, so an elegant light lunch dish materialized.

Serves 2 - scales up easily

6 oz fresh tuna steak (I used yellowtail)
1 ripe avocado
Juice of 1 lime
a few drops of a sweet chili sauce
4 scallions (spring onions) white and green parts chopped finely
2T finely chopped cilantro
1t olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 lettuce leaves
1 tomato chopped for garnish


Pat the tuna dry, cover with oil, salt and pepper. Sear grill it, so it it is nicely browned on the outside and still rare in the middle. About 2 mins per side depending on your grill. You can, of course do this in a saute pan on the stove top, in which case you will need a little more oil.

Slice the avocado pole to pole, removing the seed. Scoop out the flesh, taking care not to damage the skins - you will use the hollowed out halves as serving dishes (hackneyed, yes but still a nice way to do it).

Shred the tuna into rough bite sized pieces. It wants to be the same kind of texture as pulled pork. mash the avocado and combine all ingredients, adjusting flavoring/seasoning to taste.

Chill the salad for at least an hour. Serve in the empty avocado shell on a little lettuce and some diced tomato for color and effect. A hit of sea salt and/or finely ground pepper can be added too.

A crisp dry white wine and where did Saturday afternoon go?

Watermelon and mango soup

Madame and I ate at The Edge, a very nice restaurant in Rodney Bay St. Lucia. Madame had the watermelon soup and it was excellent. I couldn't decompose it, but I knew I wanted to make something like it. So after much fiddling around, I came to this.

Serves 8

For the sugar syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup water
8 green cardamoms
1 1" knob of fresh ginger cut into thin slices
8 peppercorns
2 kaffir lime leaves (or the zest of 2 limes)
2 cloves

For the soup
1/3 cup of sugar syrup
1T powdered arrowroot
1/4 cup water
6 cups cubed, seeded watermelon
2 ripe mangoes
1t fresh mace chopped fine or 1/2t powdered mace
A few drops of your favorite hot sauce
24 croutons
a little extra virgin olive oil - used as a finishing garnish
a little sherry vinegar - used as a finishing garnish
a little coarse sea salt - used to finish the soup and give a flavor burst and crunch

Sugar syrup
Place the sugar and water into a small saucepan. Stir to dissolve as much as possible. Add the flavoring ingredients. Bring to a boil slowly, and simmer for about 10 minutes. You are really just keeping it hot, not trying to caramelize it. The goal is to speed flavor extraction.

Strain the syrup. Left overs are good in many cocktails that require simple syrup.

The soup
Make a slurry from the arrowroot and water. Add to the warm sugar syrup and stir to combine. It should thicken up.

Place the arrowroot mixture, watermelon, mangoes, mace and hot sauce into a blender and blend until smooth. Strain into a large bowl, cover with cling wrap and chill for at least 4 hours.

To serve, ladle the soup into small bowls, dot the surface with some olive oil and vinegar. Place 3 croutons in each bowl, sprinkle a few coarse salt crystals.

After dinner drink or dessert?

This recipe is inspired by a drink that we had in St. Lucia recently. The drink is a BBC (Baileys, Banana, Colada). However I wanted to make a quick and easy dessert. The colada is gone - and replaced with coconut rum. The drink is thickened with pureed bananas and a little gelatin to give it that special jiggle.

Serves 8

1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup boiling water
1 envelope gelatin
1 cup Baileys Irish Cream
1/4 cup banana flavored rum
1/2 cup coconut flavored rum
2 ripe bananas

Place the cold water into a bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and stir to mix. Add the boiling water, stir again and leave to stand for around 5 minutes.
Put the rest of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. There should be no discernible chunks of banana. Add the gelatin mixture and blend quickly on low speed until it is all incorporated.

Transfer into cocktail glasses, cover each glass with cling wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours until set.

Serve garnished with mint leaves.