Seared 4-Spice Ahi Tuna and Udon Noodles
Ever since my husband and I ate at The Stonehouse Restaurant at San Ysidro Ranch on my birthday a few months back, my husband can’t stop thinking about the meal he had there and how he wanted to try and replicate that same meal here at home. Though, neither he nor I really had any idea of what we were doing or how we would replicate the meal. This was a true shot in the dark. In fact, I never even tried his meal that night, I only saw it and took pictures of it, so here I was trying to replicate a meal based on a picture I had. It would be interesting to see how this would turn out.
One day, when I was making a stop at a local Asian grocery store, my husband had asked me to try and find some udon noodles. Udon noodles are a thick wheat noodle that originate from Japan. You can find fresh udon noodles that are vacuum packed in individual servings. Udon noodles are generally neutral in flavor and taste and soak up the flavor of whatever broth you may be using for udon noodle soup. This was exactly what my husband was looking for.
As this dish that my husband and I were trying to make really consisted of 2 different items (seared tuna and udon noodle soup) that could stand alone on their own, but we were going to combine them together we decided to split up the cooking duty. I would work on the udon noodle soup and my husband would sear the tuna.
To make the udon noodle soup, I needed to prepare a bunch of ingredients. All I knew of the udon noodle soup that my husband ate at The Stonehouse Restaurant was that it was udon noodles in a light dashi broth with mixed vegetables and micro greens. As I had no clue how to do a dashi broth, I decided to throw something together on my own. I needed to start off by sauteeing various vegetables with some flavoring agents. As my husband is a big fan of ginger, and ginger infuses big, bold flavors into any dish, I started off with some fresh ginger which I finely diced.
As I hate to cook any dish without the use of some garlic, I figured that ginger and garlic go well together so I might as well dice up a couple of cloves of garlic as well.
The vegetables we chose were a mix of vegetables I wanted and vegetables that my husband wanted. Remember, I’m the picky eater, and especially so when it comes to vegetables. For me, I chopped up a bunch of broccoli. Gotta love broccoli, especially considering how good it is for you.
My husband and I both like green onions, so I rough chopped some green onions.
And in addition to using green onions, we also used some red onions. My husband actually purchased a green been saute pack that came with green beans, murshrooms and red onions. The red onions were the only thing in that package that I liked.
For my husband I diced up the mushrooms.
And finally the green beans. My husband could eat his heart out in green beans, for me, not so much.
For the tuna, we bought ourselves an ahi tuna steak. For my husband’s dish at The Stonehouse Restaurant, he actually had big eye tuna, but the closest we could get at our local grocery store was an ahi tuna steak. We actually bought one big steak and then my husband cut it down into 6 smaller, more managable pieces of ahi tuna. My husband wanted to create a crust for the ahi tuna that he wanted seared onto the fish. His original thought was to use the ingredients found in Chinese 5-spice to create the crust on the tuna. However, after having looked at the ingredients for 5-spice, we realized we only had 4 of the 5 spices in our pantry. So, on a wing and a prayer, we used a mixture of 4 spice to create our crust. The 4 spices were cinnamon, black pepper, fennel seeds and cloves. Unfortunately, we were missing the star anise, but we figured having the fennel seed probably did a good enough job of adding the licorice flavor. We took the 4 spices and ground them up together into a very fine mixture. My husband then coated the ahi tuna in the 4-spice mixture.
With everything cut and prepped, it was time to start the cooking process. First order of business was to saute the vegetables. Pour some oil into a pan on the stove set at medium high heat and throw in the minced ginger and garlic. Let those saute in the pan with the oil for a few minutes. This will add flavor to the ginger and garlic and also infuse the oil with the flavor of the ginger and garlic. Be careful to watch the pan though and not burn the garlic and ginger.
Once the garlic and ginger have had a chance to brown a little bit, add in the harder to cook vegetables. In this case, that meant adding in the broccoli and the red onions. Along with these vegetables, I also added in some salt, pepper and some oyster sauce. As this is an Asian-inspired dish, it needs to have the classic flavors of Asia. Saute the broccoli and the onions until they start to become tender and the onion starts to become translucent.
It’s now time to add the rest of the vegetables; the green onion, mushrooms and green beans. Again, a little bit of pepper and some more oyster sauce. Continue to saute until everything cooks and starts to come together.
On a separate burner, heat 2 cups of water in a small pot until it starts to boil. When the water has come to a rolling boil, add the udon noodles directly into the pot. Watch as the udon noodles start to separate and cook. It only takes 2-3 minutes for the udon noodles to full cook.
Once cooked, add the package of seasoning into the pot with the udon noodles. In this case, the seasoning was mushroom flavored. You’ve now made udon noodle soup. But, we’re not done with it yet.
Finally, on a third burner on the stove, heat up a cast iron skillet with a tablespoon of oil. Let the cast iron sit on the stove until it starts to smoke and becomes extremely hot. When the skillet is ready, place the ahi tuna directly onto the cast iron skillet. If the skillet is hot enough, the heat will sear the 4-spices right onto the tuna creating a nice flavorful crunch. Rotate the ahi tuna on all 4 sides, this should only take a few minutes. To do tuna the right way, it should only be seared on the outside with the inside of the tuna still raw.
Back to the sauteed vegetables, it’s time to add the pot of udon noodles directly into the pan with the sauteed vegetables. Stir everything together. To the pot, I also added in some sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. Taste everything once all the ingredients have combined to make sure it tastes good and that nothing else needs to be added.
At this point, your udon noodles are done. No need to go any further. Turn the heat off of the burner.
Time to plate up the dish. Take a bowl and scoop some of the udon noodles and sauteed vegetables into the bowl. Be sure to get some of the nice broth that you’ve created and flavored as well.
Add the seared pieces of ahi tuna on top of the udon noodles. And your dish is complete, seared 4-spice ahi tuna with udon noodles.
My husband couldn’t stop raving over how good the dish was. First, it looked fantastic. He said before he tasted it that if it tasted even remotely close to what we had at The Stonehouse Restaurant, he’d be more than happy. Luckily, our fly by the seat of our pants method of putting together a dish worked and the dish tasted fantastic. The noodles were good and flavorful and the seared ahi tuna was perfect. My husband completely enjoyed the dish and said this is exactly what he had in mind when he decided he wanted to try and make this dish at home. He is already looking forward to making it again soon!