Ahi Tuna Salad with Thai Chili Dressing

At Garrison Forest, we recently got a new Head of School, Dr. Kim Roberts!  Generally, getting a new Head tends to make people nervous; the feeling that you always need to be on your toes, ready-to-impress.  Well, the feeling was no different this morning when Kim was meeting with a member of the Board of Trustees and had requested her first plated lunch from the SAGE kitchen.  There is no one in the kitchen on staff this week, and my boss is on vacation, so I got to take the reins and choose something I'd like to give to her.  I went in the Asian direction (her cat's name is Kimchi!), because it's something different than our traditional plated lunch, and because Kim has just moved here from Palo Alto, California, where there are Asian restaurants for days.  I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite salads at Pappas in Glen Burnie, complete with fresh Ahi tuna, field greens, and a spicy cilantro chili dressing.  My dressing is different, and I added some things here and there, but some ingredients remain.  Going off of my own likes and tastes, I came up with this!  Here's a tip: try the dressing on ANYTHING - it's delicious!

For the tuna:
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • (2) 6-ounce yellowfin tuna steaks
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
For the salad:
  • 1/2 pound rice noodles
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 3/4 cup shelled edamame
  • 5 oz. bag of spring mix lettuce
For the dressing:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 tablespoons Sweet Thai Chili Sauce (any variety)
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Salt and pepper
Garnish, optional:
  • 1 avocado, sliced or cubed
  • 1 tablespoon "tuxedo" (black and white mixed) sesame seeds, toasted

1.  For the tuna: Whisk the juice of two limes, honey, and ginger in a mixing bowl and marinate the tuna for about 15 minutes.  Heat sesame oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  When hot, sear tuna steaks, about 3 minutes on each side, depending how rare you want it.  Chill.

2.  For the salad: Bring about six cups of water to a boil and add rice noodles.  Cook until your desired texture, drain, rinse, and set aside.  Toast walnuts in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, until golden brown, or in a skillet until you can smell them toasting.  Set aside to cool.  Slice peppers, carrot, and onion very thin, in long strips and put in large mixing bowl.  Add edamame, walnuts, and spring mix to the mixing bowl.  When cooled, add rice noodles.

3.  In a bowl, whisk all ingredients for the dressing.  Pour dressing over all ingredients in mixing bowl.  Toss with your hands to coat.  Separate noodle salad equally into two large, shallow bowls.

4.  Slice tuna into 3/4-inch pieces, careful not to break it up.  Place the tuna around the salad, or on top.  Garnish with chopped avocado and toasted black and white sesame seeds.  Enjoy!


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