Friday, July 8, 2016

Cajun Blackened Yellowfin Tuna Sliders

     Gourmet Cajun Style Sliders! 
     Blackened seafood is not quite as popular as it was in the 1980's and 1990's, but it is still found on menu in many casual seafood restaurants.  The recent trend of gourmet sliders has brought Cajun blackened fish back into the limelight.  Cajun Blackened Tuna Sliders appeal to those who are interested in a slider that is healthier than beef or kobe beef.
     Blackening seafood is an old Louisiana style cooking technique.  The original blackening technique involved pressing coarse edible rock salt and very coarsely crushed black peppercorns into the flesh of a redfish filet.  The redfish filet was then seared in smoking hot butter for 6 minutes on one side and 1 minute on the other side.  Most of the rock salt melted from the moisture of the redfish and this created a crust with dark brownish black highlights.  All the flavor of the redfish was sealed in beneath the black crust.  
    As time moved on, Cajun spice mixtures for blackening fish became more complex.  Now blackening involves coated the fish filet with Cajun spices and then searing the fish in smoking hot butter at a high temperature.  The spice mixture turns black and the flavor of the Cajun spices infuse with the meat.  Once again, by searing at a high temperature, the fish juices and flavor are locked into the meat.
     If you have ever been served blackened fish at a restaurant that looks like it is covered with greasy red spice and the coating has few blackened highlights, then the fish was seared at too low of temperature.  When blackened fish is sautéed at too low of a temperature, the Cajun spices absorb the butter and the fish will look red from the cayenne pepper and paprika.  The spicy heat will be overbearing too, because most of cayenne did not go up in smoke.
     Fish like grouper, snapper, redfish and mahi mahi are some of the best fish to blacken.  Tuna turns out rather dark, because the meat grain is very tight with little fat.  With fewer juices, the tuna becomes darker even faster.  That is okay, because tuna is usually cooked so it is still rare in the center anyway.
     When selecting tuna of any kind at a food market, it is best to check the sustainability status.  All tuna are low in numbers and some tuna species are on the endangered list.

     Focaccia Dough:
     Follow this link to the Pizza Dough recipe in this website.  An option for making Focaccia Pizza Dough is mentioned in the recipe.
     • Pizza Dough

     Focaccia Slider Rolls:
     Step 1:  Cut walnut size focaccia dough portions.
     Roll the dough portions into smooth ball shapes.
     Place the dough balls on a parchment paper lined baking pan and space them about 3" apart from each other.
     Step 2:  Brush the dough balls with olive oil.
     Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt and coarse ground back pepper on the dough balls.  (optional)
     Step 3:  Let the dough rise and proof.
     Step 4:  Bake the slider rolls in a 425ºF oven till they are a light golden color.
     Step 5:  Place the pan on a cooling rack.
     Set the Focaccia Slider Rolls aside.
     Cajun Blackening Spice Mix:
     This recipe yields enough for 4 .     
     This is a basic Cajun blackening spice mix.  Some Cajun chefs add many dried herbs to the basic spice mixture to create a more complex flavor, but it is best to learn the basic blackening spice mixture before trying to get fancy!    
     Place 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder.
     Add 4 tablespoons Spanish Paprika.
     Add 4 tablespoons of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of white pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of flour.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Cajun Blackened Yellowfin Tuna Sliders:   
     • Blackening does produce plenty of smoke.  Be sure that the kitchen fan is on and that the kitchen is well ventilated.
     • A fish filet is usually seared for 6 minutes on one side and 1 minute on the other side.  Tuna cannot be cooked this way, because the grain of the meat is tight and there is little fat.  It is best to blacken tuna for the same amount of time on both sides. 
     Step 1:  Split 3 slider rolls in half.
     Brush the slider rolls with garlic butter.
     Grill the rolls on a griddle over medium/medium low heat, till they are toasted golden brown.
     Place the rolls on a plate.
     Place a cucumber slice on the bottom half of each roll.
     Place some alfalfa sprouts on top of the cucumber slices.
     Set the slider set-up plate aside.
     Step 2:  Cut a thick yellowfin tuna steak into 3 pieces, so that each piece will fit on the slider rolls.  The yellowfin tuna slider portions should weigh about 2 to 2 1/2 ounces apiece.
     Dredge the tuna pieces in the Cajun blackening spice mix.
     Step 3:  Heat 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
     Heat the butter, till the butter just begins to smoke.
     Use a pair of tongs to place the Cajun spiced tuna sliders in the smoking hot butter.
     Blacken the tuna sliders for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on both sides.  (Only flip the sliders once!  The tuna should still be medium rare in the center.)
     Step 4:  Turn off the heat.
     Use a spatula to place the blackened tuna sliders on each of the slider rolls on the set-up plate.
     Lean the slider roll tops against the tuna sliders.
     Serve with fries, slaw or pickles.  
     *The sliders in the pictures with spicy kimchi.

     These are some tasty Cajun style tuna sliders!

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