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New Orleans Seafood Cookbook
by Ralph Brennan
When a lunch or dinner calls for a cool and bracing first course, this one could be just the right thing. Slices of seared and chilled tuna, edged with black sesame seeds, join a creamy sauce with avocado and horseradish.
For 6 appetizer servings

    • The sauce may be prepared one day ahead.
    • About 3 tablespoons of the sauce are needed to garnish the dish. Leftover sauce would make a good dip for cold boiled seafood or tortilla chips, or it can be used as a salad dressing.
    • The tuna steaks are cooked rare for this dish. Cooking them longer will make them more difficult to slice.

Special Equipment
• An electric blender or food processor
• A nonreactive* storage bowl
• A heavy, non-stick 12-inch skillet



    • 1 large (about 10 ounces) very ripe avocado, preferably Hass
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon rice-wine vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
    • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    • 2 teaspoons dairy sour cream
    • kosher salt, to taste
    • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In the bowl of a blender, combine all ingredients and process to a smooth sauce.

2. Transfer the mixture to a nonreactive storage bowl, and cover with plastic wrap so the plastic touches the entire surface of the sauce to keep it from turning brown. Chill at least one hour before serving.


    • 3 tuna steaks, 6 to 7 ounces each, 1 inch thick
    • kosher salt, to taste
    • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1. Generously season each tuna steak with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle each steak on all sides with black sesame seeds, using a total of 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds distributed among the 3 steaks.

2. Heat an empty, heavy non-stick 12-inch skillet over high heat just until short of smoking, about two minutes. Add the olive oil to the hot skillet and heat for 30 seconds. Arrange the tuna steaks in the skillet without crowding them (saute in batches if needed), and saute on the four sides (think of the four sides of a shoe box), but not the ends, for just 15 seconds per side, to sear the outside while keeping the inside rare.

3. Remove the skillet from heat and transfer the steaks to a plate. Cool briefly, cover and refrigerate at least two hours or up to eight hours.


    • 2 large ripe avocados, preferably Hass, about 10 ounces each
    • 2½ to 3 ounces fresh sprouts (such as radish sprouts or pea shoots or other sprouts with a bite), or 1½ ounces baby arugula leaves
    • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, for garnish

    1. Peel and halve the avocados and remove the pits. Cut two of the avocado halves lengthwise into four slices each. Cut the other two halves lengthwise into five slices each.

    2. Slice each of the 3 chilled tuna steaks crosswise into six equal slices, to produce a total of 18 slices.

    3. Mound a portion of the sprouts in the center of each chilled salad plate, then arrange three avocado slices and three tuna slices alternately around the sprouts, like spokes on a wheel.

    4. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon of the avocado sauce at the foot of each tuna slice.

    5. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper and garnish with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

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