Thu Jun 20, 2019
These grilled tuna wonton nachos might just be the start of something that will probably make a lot of readers happy—more seafood recipes! My Meatwave constituency has seen the addition of pescatarians this year, and that's what pushed me into thinking about a seafood addition to my Tiki-themed cookout a couple months ago. I personally am not big on fish, but I'm always trying to broaden my horizons and become a better eater, so I came up with a recipe that sounded so delicious to me, there was no way I wasn't going to eat. At the end of the day though, I wasn't the only one who found some love for these nachos—so many of my guests were gushing about this dish.
When devising these nachos, I first started building a recipe that would pile on a ton of toppings in true American excess fashion. I stopped to think about the experience I was putting together though and fell back to just a few toppers, which ended up being perfect in my opinion. The easiest of the lot was this wasabi cream—it's just a mix of sour cream and wasabi paste with a little soy sauce for a savory boost and lime juice for acidity. You can totally adjust the spice level here to your liking—I started with a couple teaspoons of wasabi paste and kept adding more until it reached the nose clearing burn I like.
The second topper, a pineapple pico de gallo, ended up doing a lot of the flavoring work. I used my standard pico recipe here and just added pineapple to party. I have changed up my pico process in the past couple years by salting the tomatoes first, which gives them an enhanced flavor and results in a less watery salsa.
The final pico had everything I could wish for these particular nachos, starting with a sweet fruitiness, sharp oniony crunch, jalapeño heat, mellow acidity, and a boost of freshness by way of cilantro. Very fitting to the theme.
If there was any fault in this recipe, it was the wonton chips. I'm well versed in frying tortillas to perfectly crisp, toasty, and not greasy chips, but the wontons ended up being a different beast altogether. At the store I couldn't decided between the white Shanghai-style wonton wrappers or the tan Hong Kong style ones. In my indecision, I picked up both, but only tried frying the Hong Kong variety, which I split in half diagonally to make triangles first.
I heated my oil to 375°F and began frying off batches of these chips. They bubbled and brown beautifully, so there was no issue there, but when I transferred them to a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain, I noticed they were staying visibly greasy. I tried turning up and down the heat to see if that would make a difference, but it didn't. I worried my guests would be turned off by the shiny appearance of the chips, but in the end, no one would have noticed if I hadn't said something, and even then, no one cared once I did.
I was really hoping for a darker fleshed tuna for these nachos, but I found that the tuna pickings in central North Carolina are slim. So I bought the best looking steaks I could get my hands on and moved forth with concentrating on the flavoring. I ended up coating the fish with a simple rub that I thought would pair well with the salsa and wasabi cream—it consisted of paprika, salt, black pepper, and sesame seeds.
I knew I wanted the fish to be very raw on the inside, but well seared on the outside, so a fire as hot as it could be was called for. When I need blazing hot heat and have a small item to cook, like this tuna steak, I like to use the lit charcoal still in the chimney as the heat source. All I need to do is place a small grilling grate atop the chimney and I have an instant super powered fire.
This got me wonderfully seared tuna in just a minute or so per side. You really want to develop good browning here. If the fish is well seared, it will easily release from the grates, so if it's sticking, just give it a little more time and try again. If you give the tuna its proper time over the fire, you shouldn't have any issues with it sticking and falling apart on you.
Slicing into the tuna, I was greeted with welcomed confirmation the it was indeed cooked exactly as I had hoped. I cut the steak up into a medium dice and then spread it out on a layer of wonton chips I had arranged in a large sheet pan. I then spooned on the pineapple pico and squeezed on the wasabi cream.
In the grander scheme of the menu for that day, I was seeing these nacho as a nice side nosh among heavier hitters like tamarind ribs and huli huli chicken tacos, but people really lost their shit over these nachos more than anything else I cooked up. When you consider the fact that I, mot a good seafood eater, kept going back for more, I totally understood why. The mixture of flavors and textures really came together incredibly well—the delicate crisp of the chip gave way to the hearty tuna with its earthy rub followed by the sweet and fresh salsa that was contrasted by the tangy and spicy wasabi cream. To say these were fitting for the TIki-theme we had going on is and understatement, I really couldn't imagine something more perfectly suited for such a cookout, but I'm sure your guests will love them no matter what context you serve them in.
Grilled Tuna Wonton Nachos
- Prep Time:
- 45 Minutes
- Inactive Time:
- 10 Minutes
- Cook Time:
- 2 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 57 Minutes
- 8 servings
- For the Wasabi Cream
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons wasabi paste, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- For the Pineapple Pico
- 3/4 cup diced roma tomatoes (about 2 medium)
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 3/4 cup diced pineapple
- 1/3 cup finely diced white onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
- 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon finely diced seeded jalapeño (about 1 small)
- 2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice from 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic (about 1 medium clove)
- For the Wonton Chips
- 2 to 3 cups canola oil
- 8 ounces small wonton wrappers, halved diagonally
- For the Tuna
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 1 pound tuna steak
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
- To make the wasabi cream: In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, wasabi paste, soy sauce, and lime juice. Adjust sauce with more wasabi paste to taste. Transfer to a squeeze bottle or airtight container and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make the pineapple pico: Place tomatoes in a fine-mesh strainer set in a bowl, season with salt, and toss to combine. Let tomatoes sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Discard liquid, transfer tomatoes to bowl, and add in pineapple, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, and garlic; toss to combine. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.
- To make the wonton chips: Heat oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet, dutch oven, or wok over medium-high heat until it registers 375°F. Adjust flame to maintain temperature. Working in batches, add wontons and fry, agitating with a metal spider, until edges just start to brown. Flip chips over and continue to cook until crisp and light golden brown. Transfer chips to a paper towel lined tray, sprinkle with salt to taste, and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes to drain. Repeat with remaining batches. Set aside until ready to use.
- To make the tuna: In small bowl, mix together paprika, salt, pepper, and sesame seeds. Season tuna all over with seasoning mixture. Light one chimney 2/3 full of charcoal.When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, place a small grill grate on top of chimney. Brush each side of tuna with oil and place on top of grate. Cook until the first side is browned and easily releases from grate, about 1 minute. Flip tuna over and grill until second side with well browned and easily releases form grate, about 1 minute more, Transfer tuna to a cutting board and cut into a medium dice.
- Spread a single layer of chips out on a large baking sheets or serving platter. Spoon tuna and pico on top of chips. Squeeze or spoon on wasabi cream. Serve immediately.