To help thick tuna steaks brown faster we coat them with extra-virgin olive oil and honey before they hit the grill.
Grilled Tuna Steaks with Romesco
SERVES 4 FAST
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Like swordfsh, tuna is well suited to grilling. Perfectly grilled tuna steaks should combine a hot, smoky, charred exterior with a cool, rare center. For a home cook, this ideal can be elusive. To achieve grilled tuna steaks with an intense smoky char and a tender interior, we started with a hot grill. We moistened the tuna steaks with olive oil to penetrate the meat and keep it juicy. To promote browning, we added honey to the oil; sugar worked as well but honey created browning faster, which was important since the tuna spends only a brief time on the grate. To add a touch of brightness and heat, we finished the dish with a pungent Spanish romesco sauce, made with sweet and smoky roasted red peppers. In addition to being an excellent accompaniment to fish, this sauce is also terrific spread on toasted bread or used as a dip for crudités. We prefer our tuna served rare or medium-rare. If you like your tuna cooked medium, observe the timing for medium-rare, then tent the steaks with foil for 5 minutes before serving.
1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, crusts removed, bread lightly toasted and cut into ½-inch pieces (½ cup)
1½ tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped coarse
1 plum tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2¼ teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon water
2 (8- to 12-ounce) skinless tuna steaks, 1 inch thick, halved crosswise
1. Process bread and almonds in food processor until nuts are finely ground, 10 to 15 seconds. Add red peppers, tomato, 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar, garlic, cayenne, and ½ teaspoon salt. Process until smooth and mixture has texture similar to mayonnaise, 20 to 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Season with salt to taste; set aside for serving.
2. Whisk remaining 3 tablespoons oil, honey, water, ½ teaspoon salt, and pinch pepper together in bowl. Pat tuna dry with paper towels and generously brush with oil mixture.
3A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
3B. FOR A GAS GRILL Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.
4. Clean cooking grate, then repeatedly brush grate with well-oiled paper towels until grate is black and glossy, 5 to 10 times. Place tuna on grill (on hotter side if using charcoal) and cook (covered if using gas) until opaque and streaked with dark grill marks on first side, 1 to 3 minutes. Gently flip tuna using 2 spatulas and continue to cook until opaque at perimeter and translucent red at center when checked with tip of paring knife and registers 110 degrees (for rare), about 1½ minutes, or until opaque at perimeter and reddish pink at center when checked with tip of paring knife and registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), about 3 minutes. Serve with sauce.