Tuna and Soba Noodle Salad

This recipe from Chef Jesse Wilson features ultra-rare tuna, lightly seared and served with sesame dressing atop soba noodles with house pickles.

Pickled vegetables:

• 1 cup each: water and rice vinegar

• 3 mini cucumbers, sliced paper thin

• 1/2 red onion, sliced paper thin

• 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

• 1 hot pepper, sliced paper thin

• 1/2 cup thinly sliced enoki mushrooms, optional

Sesame emulsion:

• 3 tablespoons each: water, soy sauce and vinegar (rice or apple cider)

• 2 garlic cloves

• 2 tablespoons tahini

• 3/4 cup canola oil

• 1 package buckwheat soba noodles, about 250 grams

• 1 albacore tuna loin, about 1 lb, mostly thawed if frozen, and cut into four 3-inch portions

• salt and pepper

•crushed pink peppercorns or other spices

 • 1 teaspoon canola oil

• toasted sesame seeds, furikake (Japanese seasoning) or nori to garnish

To make the pickled vegetables, combine the water and vinegar and pour over the sliced vegetables in a bowl. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

For the sesame emulsion, in a blender, combine the water, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and tahini and blend well. With the machine running, slowly add the canola oil to create an emulsified dressing. Refrigerate.

Cook the soba noodles in boiling salted water until just barely tender, then drain, rinse with cold water to cool and drain again. Toss with enough sesame dressing to coat.

Trim the tuna loin, removing any belly meat to sear separately. Season the tuna pieces with salt and pepper on all sides, then roll in crushed pink peppercorns (or other spices) to coat. If the tuna is very cold or slightly frozen in the centre, it will be easier to cook it very rare.

Heat a non-stick pan over high heat and add a teaspoon of canola oil. When the oil is very hot, nearly smoking, gently set the tuna pieces into the pan, one at a time, and cook for about 10 to 15 seconds on each of the loin’s three sides. You can watch the tuna turn from pink to white on the edges as it sears — you just want a very thin rim of cooked exterior with an ultra-rare pink interior. Remove tuna from the pan and set aside to rest for 5 minutes before cutting each piece into slices, using a very sharp knife.

To serve, drain the pickled vegetables and arrange in individual bowls around the soba noodles. Place the seared tuna on top and drizzle with additional sesame emulsion. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, slivered nori or furikake to garnish.

Serves 4