Back in November, I shared with you my Blackened Shrimp recipe which included a quick inside blackening process using an electric griddle or grill pan. While that technique is fine for cooking small batches of shrimp, I don’t recommend it for blackening big fillets of fish. In order to cook blackened fish properly, it needs to be done outside in a cast-iron skillet over very high heat. Cooking the fish indoors under these conditions could cause a fire hazard (the melted butter meets blazing hot skillet equation) or severe “spice inhalation” (the inability to breathe due to mass quantities of spicy smoke that will undoubtedly fill the house). An ideal spot for preparing blackened fish is on the side burner of a propane grill. You can even place the cast-iron skillet directly on a very hot gas grill. Unfortunately, a charcoal grill will not get hot enough to produce that buttery blackened crust and juicy center. The process is super simple. And once you get the hang of it, you’re gonna wanna blacken everything!
My blackened fish of choice is tuna–fresh, sashimi-grade tuna. Blackening is usually done with thin pieces of fish, chicken or meat to insure that it’s cooked through in the short amount of time it takes to char the outside. Tuna is different. A thick tuna steak will sear up nicely on the outside while remaining pink (rare) on the inside–as it should be. I sometimes serve blackened tuna for dinner along with a creamy side like my Baked Mashed Potatoes. Other times, I turn it into this fun Southwestern-Cajun finger food. The intensely seasoned fish combined with the tangy black beans and mango salsa and cool guacamole are fresh and exciting, especially when layered on top a crispy tostada shell!
This dish brings a variety of flavors and textures to the table which makes picking a companion beverage easy. You can play it safe with any Mexican, lime-choked lager like a Corona or Dos Equis. Or you can branch out with a robust ale like Cigar City Brewing’s Jai Alai IPA. As I’ve said before, IPAs love spice and this particular one is also full of tropical fruitiness which will play right into the hands of that wonderful Black Bean and Mango Salsa!
Until next week …
Blackened Tuna Tostadas Recipe
1 pound sashimi-grade tuna
1 stick melted butter, divided
1/3 cup Blackened Seasoning Mix
8 tostada shells
2 cups guacamole
1 cup Black Bean and Mango Salsa, see recipe
Shredded iceberg lettuce, seeded and diced tomatoes, diced onions, shredded
Mexican cheese blend and lime wedges, for garnish
Preheat a large cast iron skillet over very high heat until smoking hot, 5-10 minutes (This is best done outside over a propane burner. If cooking inside, turn range hood on high.). Meanwhile, slice tuna into 1-inch thick fillets. Pour half the melted butter in a shallow dish. Place the blackened seasoning mix in a separate shallow dish. Dip one tuna steak in melted butter until well coated on both sides then dredge in blackened seasoning. Place in hot skillet and carefully pour one tablespoon of reserved butter on top (butter may flame up). Cook uncovered until charred, about 1 minute per side. Repeat with remaining tuna. Slice tuna steaks. Spread 1/4 cup guacamole on each tostada shell. Top with 2 tablespoons Black Bean and Mango Salsa. Place 2-3 blackened tuna slices over salsa and garnish as desired. Makes 8 appetizer servings.
Black Bean and Mango Salsa
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 mango, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped red onions
1 small fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, combine black beans, mango, onions, jalapeno pepper, lime juice, olive oil and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.