Tuna Fish, Foie Gras, Chanterelles, Caramelized Nuts
Yet, there is no tuna fish in Bergerac!Foie gras, mushrooms, walnuts are some of the iconic products that have contributed to the reputation of Périgord as one of the most gourmet regions in France, if not the number one. This is why I called this dish "Tuna fish à la Périgourdine". But, of course, if eels, lampreys, salmons... are regularly swimming up the Dordogne or the Isle rivers for reproduction purposes, there is no report of tuna fish caught in those fresh waters...
A strong believer in the geographical community of ingredients, where, for instance, a cheese would perfectly match a locally grown wine, I was originally a bit skeptical about this incongruous idea of associating foie gras and tuna fish. But since I just bought a couple of nice yellow fin tuna fish steaks while, in the same time, I received my order of foie gras for the new eve réveillon... I also made earlier this year a tuna fish steak "like a duck magret", seared in duck fat and served with potatoes à la Salardaise, that had proved amazing. A quick check on line comforted me in this route as it happens to be a not-unsual association... I am happy to say that I was not deceived...
To fully play with the association of tastes and textures, I associated the silky foie gras and the meaty tuna with the earthy chanterelles and the crispy caramelized walnuts... and it worked beautifully well.
Ingredients:(for 2 servings)
- 1 yellow fin tuna fish steak of around 3/4 lb., the ticker the better (this one was a bit too thin for me),
- around 1/4 lb. of frozen foie gras cubes (trimmed pieces, much cheaper than, and as good as, slab or sliced foie gras), choosing nice 1" cubic pieces for plating and small trims for cooking,
- around 1 lb. of fresh chanterelles,
- a dozen of caramelized walnuts (from the grocery store, but they are easy to do with just walnuts and sugar),
- 1 tsp. of walnut oil
- salt, piment d'Espelette, pink pepper corns,
- cilantro and pea micro-greens.
- Slightly rub the tuna fish in coarse salt with piment d'Espelette and reserve in the fridge. This will allow to firm up the tuna steak,
- Start to cook the chanterelles in a pan, medium-high temperature, in a pan with no fat and let them cook for around 5 minutes till they render an important quantity of water. Preciously keep this water.
- Put the small foie gras trims in your pan, heat them at medium-high, and in the same way as you would do with butter, sauté the chanterelles for 10 minutes or till they are cooked as you wish, slightly crispy outside and soft inside as far as I am concerned (those were quite big chanterelles and I kept big chunks).
- Take another pan, and heat it at the maximum temperature. When the pan is really hot, sear the still frozen foie gras cubes on each side. The fact to sear (we say "saisir" in French, which could be translated by "to catch by surprise") the foie gras frozen will allow to create a caramelized crust outside that will prevent the inside fat to melt: exactly that, caught by surprise! Place the foie gras cubes on top of the chanterelles where they will finish cooking and stay warm (i.e. for around 5 minutes, the time you sear the tuna fish and prepare the sauce).
- In the same pan as that in which you "catch by surprise" the foie gras, sear the tuna fish. Needless to make use of the surprise effect here, I mean needless to cook the tuna fish frozen, but otherwise, proceed the same way, sear the steak on each side for around 1 minute or till it takes color while remaining red/pink inside. Place also the steak above the chanterelles to keep it warm.
- Use the same pan in which you cooked the foie gras cubes and the tuna steak, deglaze it with white Port (for instance), add the chanterelle juice, put to boil, let it reduce for a couple of minutes, the time to finish the dish and to plate it, and season it before serving.
- Cut the tuna steak in regular square shapes (not compulsory at all, but visually, this is a plus). Chop the trims in "crumbles" and grill them with the caramelized walnut in a pan with walnut oil.
- Plate it as you wish: here, I made a "bed" with the chanterelles, on which I placed alternatively the tuna and the foie gras pieces, I spread the tuna crumbles and the walnuts all over, and I pour some sauce around.
For the wine, I had different options, the first one being a Bergerac (red), for this "geographical community" mentioned above. This is a red wine from Périgord, quite similar to Bordeaux wines in terms of grapes and structures, and it is always great with foie gras... but I haven't found some yet in the US. A Bordeaux (red) could have been a possible option as it pairs well both with foie and tuna steaks, or even a white chardonnay (Southern Burgundy, with less citrus notes than the Chablis or other Northeners). I eventually opted for an Alsace's Riesling for its fruity notes pairing well with the foie gras and the chanterelles... in fact with everything.