Fusion Cuisine: Seared Tuna with Coconut Sauce

Fusion cuisine: dangerous territory.   There are a few ‘Einstein’ chefs out there who can make it work.  Molecular gastronomy, fusion, edgy… a few can do it, the rest would be well advised not to try.  Why would you pair Chinese lo mein noodles with French butter sauces?  Put cilantro powder in New England clam chowder?   Edgy, fusion… not my thing.  Molecular gastronomy is different.  We study the science behind food to understand our cooking and handling process better.  Again, technique is everything.

Fusion.  French/thai.  Chinese/Italian.  German/Mexican. Pan/Asian.   In SOME cases it works.  Raviolis in a coconut/lime sauce with shitake mushrooms is to die for.  But, again, except for the select few chefs who can make it work, it doesn’t work.

So, let’s go back to the basics.  Keep it simple, keep it delicious.  Remove the hours of incredible focus and study and work on keeping the classics great.  Comfort food is called ‘comfort’ for a reason.  Things are classically paired together for a reason.

So, as the old adage goes, if it grows together, it goes together.

Think about that for a moment.

Peas and carrots.  Tomatoes and basil.  Squash and eggplant.  Lemons and limes.  Scallops and lobster.  Lettuce and peppers.  Mother nature is doing the thinking for us.  They pair naturally, and I for one, do not argue with nature.

Fusion is nice when someone can pull it off.  For the rest of us, let’s embrace cuisine the way nature intended it to be.  Of course my recipe is fusion, but in this case, it works.  And, does it ever…

Seared ahi tuna with coconut/lime sauce, shitake mushrooms, and basil foam

Prep time: 30 min
cook time: 45 min
Makes: 4 servings

For the sauce:


2 cups coconut milk
2 tbsp siracha hot sauce
Juice of 3 limes
1 stalk lemongrass, smashed
1/2 bunch cilantro, stems included
2 cloves garlic
1 knob ginger, smashed
2 kaffir lime leaves
1/2 bunch scallions
2 whole cloves


Saute the lemongrass, garlic, ginger and scallions until very fragrant.  Add coconut milk and all other ingredients.  Simmer until thick, strain and reserve.

For the foam:

prep time:1 minute
cook time: 15 minutes


1 bunch basil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tbsp powdered soy lecithin


Blanch the basil in salted boiling water.  Shock in an ice bath.

In a small sauce pot, combine the sugar and water and bring to a simmer.  Let cool to room temp.  Add the basil and lecithin powder.  Using an immersion blender, puree thoroughly.  Foam will appear on the surface.  Reserve.

For the Tuna:

Prep time: 1 minute
Cook time: 5 minutes


1 8 oz ahi tuna barrel (rectangle of tuna)
kosher salt
black pepper
sesame seeds
1 cup shitake mushroom
reserved coconut sauce
basil foam


Heat a saute pan to smoking hot.  Season the tuna with salt, pepper and sesame seeds.  Apply a small amount of vegetable oil to the saute pan.  Sear the tuna on all sides, leaving the middle rare.  Let rest 2 minutes.

To finish:

Cook time: 5 minutes

In a sauce pan, saute 1 cup shitake mushrooms (stems removed) in vegetable oil until tender.  Deglaze with coconut sauce and bring to simmer.

Slice the tuna into quarter inch sliced.  Spoon the mushrooms onto the center of a hot plate.  Fan the tuna slices over the mushrooms.  Apple the sauce all around the tuna, but not on top.  Top the tuna with the foam.  Serve right away.

This is truly a restaurant dish.  The flavors are exquisite and though there are many steps, nothing is difficult.  If basil foam is out of your reach, garnish with sliced scallions, pickled thai chiles, daikon slaw, or something else appropriate.   

By all means,


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