Fresh Tuna with Maple Soy Sauce

John Upham

Food Editor's Note:  John wears many hats, including Director of Food Services for Gann Academy – The New Jewish High School of Greater Boston and also for Camp Yavneh.  As such, he is responsible for the feeding and nutrition of hundreds of our Jewish youth annually.  As if that wasn't enough to recommend him as a good cook, we had heard from numerous sources that the food at these two institutions was great, actually delicious – not something you usually hear about cafeteria or camp food.  So, his reputation firmly established as far as we were concerned, when I met John recently and we got to talking about fish, I asked him how he would suggest I cook fresh tuna, something my husband likes but that I had never attempted at home.  Here is his recipe, one that I have made several times and is truly easy and delicious.  It has just a few simple ingredients, takes no more than ten minutes to make, and is a serious entrée for a simple meal or an elegant dinner party.

Fresh tuna steaks, quite thick, but any size
Salt & pepper
Sesame seeds

Soy sauce
Maple syrup
Frangelico (hazelnut liquor) – optional
1 tablespoon butter
Heat the smallest pan for the job until it is very hot.  Keep it over the flame, empty, for 3 minutes. 

While the pan is heating, over-season the outside of the tuna with lots of salt and pepper.  Don't just sprinkle the sesame seeds on, pour them.  (Food Editor's note:  I placed the seeds in a dish and pressed the tuna into the seeds on both the top and bottom sides).

Add a small amount of oil to the pan and swirl just before gently placing the tuna in the pan.  Cook the tuna for maximum1 1/2 minutes on each side.  (Food Editor's note:  Don't be tempted to cook the fish longer.  It is best when still rare, or uncooked in the middle, and will become dried out if left to cook longer.)

Gently remove the tuna to dinner plates.  Immediately pour equal parts of soy sauce and maple syrup (just a tablespoon or two of each for 2 to 4 servings) into the hot pan.  I like to add a splash of Frangelico – hazelnut liquor.  Cook this on high heat until reduced in volume and thickened.  Turn off heat, add a tablespoon of butter, whisk it in, and then pour the sauce around the tuna, not over it.  Tuna has a delicate taste – a dip or two in the sauce will be enough.

Serve immediately.

John Upham is Director of Food Services at both Gann Academy – The New Jewish High School of Greater Boston and Camp Yavneh.  He has a growing reputation in the local community as not only an able food service administrator, but as a quality chef.  We hope this is the first of many recipes that he shares with

Fresh Tuna with Maple Soy Sauce