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Pistachio Crusted Tuna Recipe

Updated on August 23, 2012

I recently was gifted the most incredible piece of tuna. The fisherman, who caught it just off of Nantucket Sound, said the whole fish must have been 120 pounds - and the fish meat was high quality enough for sushi. I stared in wonder at the ruby red flesh, knowing that I held in my hands a great prize, but not quite sure how to best make use of it.

I called in my friend and chef, Gaby Redner, hoping she'd have ideas. Sure enough, Gaby came armed with this fantastic Pistachio Crusted Tuna recipe. For sides, we made wild rice and a squash-chard-corn stir fry.


Preparing the Tuna

Use a sharp knife. Cut into serving sizes before cooking. Know the quality of your fish.

We knew that we wanted to keep the tuna raw and pink - the texture of quality raw tuna is amazing, and the taste is so fresh you'll think the fish is still swimming.

Tuna tartare was one recipe idea, but I then learned that this dish is usually reserved for lower quality tuna for which you want to hide the imperfect or fatty flesh. My particular tuna cut could definitely stand alone! So we decided to go more the sashimi style, but with a crusted pistachio exterior.

First we half-cut, half-peeled away the skin of the tuna, as exactly as possible so as not to lose any precious flesh. Note: You'll need a very sharp knife for slicing through raw tuna! Don't squish or mangle that gorgeous stuff with a dull knife. We then cut it into four smaller serving sizes (this will also cook better on the skillet).

Next, we salt and peppered it generously. Professional chefs know you can't skimp on the seasonings, especially salt.


Seasoning the Tuna

Season generously.

Next, Gaby brought out her special weapon: powdered pistachio. She mentioned that she would have preferred to use whole pistachios and grind them in a food processor or coffee grinder to get a slightly courser texture; it's nice to have a little crunch when you bite down on the soft tuna. But we certainly made do!

We coated the tuna on all sides in the green pistachio powder, on top of the salt and pepper seasonings. As well as being delicious, the crust holds the moisture inside the fish as it is cooked.


Cooking the Fish

Use enough oil, and put the heat on high!

Next we heated a bit of oil in a skillet, enough oil that it wet the powdered pistachio covering.

Gaby informed me that when cooking fish you want the pan really hot, so we turned the flame on high. We only cooked two cuts of tuna at a time - because the fish had been sitting in the refrigerator that day it was cold, and too many cuts of cold fish would have lowered the pan temperature.

We rotated the cuts of fish so that all sides made contact with the hot skillet. At this level of heat it took only about a minute on each of the four sides of fish. With only four servings to fry, this had to be my quickest fish cooking experience!

The colors were beautiful: ruby red interior, a thin circle of cooked white flesh, and the outer circle of the dark green pistachio crust.

Leave it pink!
Leave it pink! | Source
Delicious basil cream sauce for drizzling over the tuna.
Delicious basil cream sauce for drizzling over the tuna. | Source

A Creamy Basil Dressing

To make a creamy basil dressing for drizzling over the fish and side dishes, Gaby threw into the food processor:

1 egg

1 clove garlic

juice of 1/2 fresh lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

shake of salt

several leaves of fresh basil

Serving the Tuna

As Gaby explained, as delicious as the tuna is because it is raw "you don't want to just have a big ol' hunk of it" on your plate like a steak. So, to make things a bit more delicate, and to fully appreciate the texture of the fish we cut it into slices.

Serve it in slices.
Serve it in slices. | Source
Patty-pan squash, chard, corn stir fry!
Patty-pan squash, chard, corn stir fry! | Source

Accompanying Side Dishes

Using what was fresh in the garden, we shaved corn off a cob, diced up some patty pan squash, and threw it all into a pan with some chard for light sauteing.

And what fish dish would be complete without a side of rice. We however made wild rice - not a rice at all but a grass seed high in amino acids and extremely nutritious.

Enjoy the whole plate with a glass of white wine!


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    • howcurecancer profile image

      Elena@LessIsHealthy 3 years ago

      It sounds delicious!!!

    • profile image

      lesliebyars 5 years ago

      I am going to try this recipe. Voted up and Loved it.

    • Wesley Meacham profile image

      Wesley Meacham 5 years ago from Wuhan, China

      This looks beautiful. I love fish and especially tuna.

      Voting up, Sharing and pinning.

    • mmsu profile image

      mmsu 5 years ago from Pakistan

      Delicious.Looks yummy.Will definitely give it a try!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I can't believe I'm saying this, but I've never had tuna crusted with ANYTHING before. This looks and sounds positively delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe.