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Seared Tuna ... what's wrong with my knives?


paulraphael
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I seared a 1 inch thick yellowfin tuna steak yesterday, browned on the outside, and basically raw for all but the outside 1/8" or so. It was dredged in some crushed black pepper and coriander. I cut it on the bias into half inch or so slices.

And I expected this to be easy with my 240mm Hiromoto Gyuto. The knife is sharp enough to fillet newsprint into 1/2 milimeter slices, but it had a rough time with the tuna. Not the raw part, which it slid through, but the browned exterior, which just crumbled and shreded.

After a couple of ugly slices, I tried my cheap (but still pretty sharp) slicing knife. No better and no worse. I did not think of trying my Mac bread knife (also sold as a meat slicing knife) Maybe the wavy edge would have been a better solution.

Any thoughts on what's best for the job?

Notes from the underbelly

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I don't think it's your knife that's the problem. This is one of those cases where your knife skills come into play before you cook, not after.

I forget where I heard this tip, but before you sear the tuna steak, make 1/4" deep slices into the tuna flesh where you want the final slices to be. You just want to score the meat and get the cut started. After you sear just finish by cutting the rest of the way through.

Space the slits as far apart as you want your final slices to be. I like to make Tataki, and this is the way I get nice clean slices.

Edited by Batard (log)

"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."

Fergus Henderson

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I'm not sure what kind of knife your Hiromoto Gyuto is (chef's knife?), but I have better luck with seared tuna with a sharp, thin blade, like a sharp boning or fillet knife. I use a long, thin Global boning knife and try to cut directly across the grain as much as possible.

A thin wipe of cooking oil with a paper towel might help as well.

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I forget where I heard this tip, but before you sear the tuna steak, make 1/4" deep slices into the tuna flesh where you want the final slices to be. You just want to score the meat and get the cut started. After you sear just finish by cutting the rest of the way through.

Interesting. I've never heard that one. I'd be a little worried about this encouraging things to dry out. Anyone done this?

I use a long, thin Global boning knife and try to cut directly across the grain as much as possible.

It was much easier to cut straight down (with the grain, actually) but I wanted bias slices.

Most boning knives are too short to do it one stroke. A sujijiki might be good, but considering how thin and sharp the gyuto is, I wouldn't imagine a suji would damage the surface any less. The thin height of a slicer/boner mostly helps when you slice something fatter than a 1 inch steak.

I wish I'd tried the Mac serated slicer. Might have been at least as bad, but at least I'd know!

Notes from the underbelly

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I forget where I heard this tip, but before you sear the tuna steak, make 1/4" deep slices into the tuna flesh where you want the final slices to be. You just want to score the meat and get the cut started. After you sear just finish by cutting the rest of the way through.

Interesting. I've never heard that one. I'd be a little worried about this encouraging things to dry out. Anyone done this?

I have never had tuna come out dry, that would ruin the whole thing, but like you I only cook the outer 1/8" or so. If you cooked it longer it would dry out. Just keep the cut shallow, the pan really hot, and sort of keep the scoremarks pressed together. Sear the cut side first.

"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."

Fergus Henderson

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I had to slice seared tuna for a 250top event. the best way I found to do it was to start at the heel of the knife and cut through in one clean slice. you have to squeeze the the piece of fish while you are cutting too. The pieces I was cutting were sort of triangle shaped so I was cutting in on on corner. Both the saran wrap and pre-scoring sound like good ideas though. With the scoring one I would be worried that steam or heat would discolor the slices though.

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I'm faced with this issue on a daily basis. As a result I "cheat" a little bit. I'll sear one side of the tuna on a hot spot on the grill or in a hot pan. A nice thin crisp surface will result. I turn the tuna over and use the same spot on the grill which has now cooled from cooking the tuna. (or turn the heat down if pan searing) As a result the outer layer on that side of the tuna won't get as crisp. It makes slicing a whole lot easier and your slices will still have that nice white ring around the outside. You can also make your slices thinner which in my opinion eats better and looks better.

www.saltyskitchen.com

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