Seared Tuna Salad with Mixed Greens and Wasabi Vinaigrette
I would serve this Springtime salad as a lunch or dinner entree as it will leave you feeling satisfied but not overstuffed and weighed down. To me, it embodies the freshness and warmth of the season.
Tuna is my favorite fish eaten as sushi or sashimi but it’s important to discuss the varieties of tuna as surely they offer different health benefits and risks. Tuna is a lean protein and much like wild salmon, it’s high in omega-3 fatty acid which is the good kind of fat that is super important for your body. This healthy fat helps lower blood pressure and reduces inflammation that can lead to more serious health issues.
It’s important to discuss the differences between tuna types as although they contain a lot of good stuff for the body, certain varieties are definitely better for you than others, especially if you eat tuna regularly.
For this recipe, I’m using sushi grade tuna but let’s take a step back and look at tuna that we probably all have in our cabinets at home right now – canned tuna. There are a few varieties of canned tuna. Some are canned with water and some in oil. The other difference you’ll notice is that some are marked as “Light” and some are not. Being tagged as “Light” doesn’t mean it’s lower calorie or lower fat. Light tuna usually is of the smaller tuna species, most often skipjack tuna. Skipjack is typically fished at a young age. “White” tuna not marketed as “Light” is normally of the Albacore variety which is a larger species that is typically fished at a more mature age.
When choosing between these two in terms of canned tuna, I ALWAYS opt for the “Light” variety. The reason is very simple. Skipjack contains significantly lower levels of mercury as opposed to other tuna species like albacore or yellowfin. The largest would be bigeye which may contain up to 2 or 3 times the level of mercury as the smaller species. Simply stated, the older the fish, the higher the concentration of mercury just given the level of exposure over its lifetime.
I was treated for mercury poisoning about 4-5 years ago and it was a long and expensive process to heal from. I suffered from many neurological issues like brain fog, dizziness, trouble focusing, blurry vision and also from insomnia. My mercury levels were off the charts due to old dental work I had done as a kid and not from my indulgence in consuming high mercury seafood but certainly, if eaten regularly, this can be a huge problem with a diet high in seafood.
When purchasing sushi grade fish for this salad, ask your fishmonger for skipjack. I think you’ll notice the texture and flavor to be similar to albacore or yellowtail and you should feel better about consuming a significantly lower concentration of mercury. This is especially important if you consume a lot of tuna in your diet.
You won’t need a ton of ingredients to assemble this salad but what we are using will pack a big healthy punch.
To coat the tuna, we’re going to use furikake. Furikake is a very common Japanese ingredient and is composed of sesame seeds, bonito (fish) flakes and seaweed. You can find furikake at your local Asian supermarket and maybe even in the Asian section at your Western supermarket. This condiment is the epitome of umami. The fish really needs this flavoring which also is high in Vitamin B and calcium.
For the salad greens, grab one of the 50:50 mixes of arugula and baby spinach. Arugula will add a peppery pop that’s high in fiber and antioxidants. It’ll help detoxify, clean out your body and promote regularity. Spinach is packed with vitamins and just like Popeye knew, it’s great for bone health.
Edamame basically are just young soybeans. When picked young, they’re tender and edible as is. They’re high in protein, are known to reduce cholesterol and have been proven to help prevent certain types of cancer like breast and colon cancer.
The real flavor bomb in the salad comes from the dressing which is simple to mix and explodes with flavor from the wasabi base.
I’m sure you’ve all had wasabi when you’ve eaten sushi. It’s traditionally made from Japanese horseradish and it’s quite spicy. I remember taking a friend out for sushi for the first time and she thought that mound of it next to her pickled ginger was guacamole. She chomped the whole pile down in one bite and royally learned her lesson.
Wasabi is high in dietary fiber and is good for your gut and heart health. It naturally fights the bacteria that cause food poisoning and is a natural decongestant. You can find wasabi paste in the Asian section at your local market.
This salad will serve 2.
- ½ – ¾ pound sushi grade tuna – skipjack is available
- 2 tsp canola oil
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp fresh cracked pepper
- 1 Tbsp furikake
- 8 cups 50:50 mix arugula:baby spinach
- ½ cup shelled and cooked edamame
- 2 green onion (green part) – sliced
- ½ cup cilantro leaves
- 1 cup fried wonton strips
- 1 avocado, halved and sliced
- 1 Tbsp wasabi paste
- 1 Tbsp liquid aminos, soy sauce or tamari
- 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 clove ginger, minced
- 1 tsp ginger, peeled and minced
- ¼ C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Coat the tuna with one tsp of the canola oil. Season with salt and pepper then coat the fish with the furikake on all sides. Press the furikake into the flesh of the fish gently so it adheres.
Heat a non stick to medium heat. When hot, add the other tsp of canola oil. Wait about a minute for the oil to get hot then gently add the tuna and sear on each side for about 30 seconds on each side. Remove from the heat and let rest on your cutting board while you assemble the rest of the dish.
Mix the greens with your edamame, green onion and cilantro in a large mixing bowl.
In a small bowl whisk together the wasabi paste, liquid aminos, rice wine vinegar, garlic and ginger. Slowly pour in the olive oil while continuing to whisk to incorporate and emulsify.
Pour the dressing over the greens and mix well. Using salad forks or tongs, mound the salad in your serving bowl.
Slice the tuna against the grain and layer on top of the salad. Garnish the salad with the wonton strips and sliced avocado.