Tuna Steaks, Sautéed Zucchini and Raspberry Chocolate Mousse / by Brian Staffield


Despite what a lot of creationists think the basis of good cooking is in fact science. That's why I was interested in the cookbook The Science of Good Cooking. Within the book America's Test Kitchen tests different cooking theories and tells you which one produces the best results. These theories don't just apply to one recipe, they carry over to multiple recipes within the cookbook and can be applied to your everyday cooking. I decided to make a few of the recipes that caught my eye when reading through this fascinating book of deconstructed cooking techniques.


Pan-searing a tuna steak results in an ultra tender piece of fish that cuts like butter. While the sesame seeds add texture and a flavor that compliments the tuna. I recommend the tuna recipe even for beginners. The zucchini side dish works well with the tuna, adding just enough spiciness and texture variety to the meal. While the raspberry chocolate mousse is the perfect ending to this meal. The fluffy texture and the rich chocolate intensity leaves you satisfied with a delicious and filling feast. 


A quick side note. Since these recipes are from a book entitled The Science of Good Cooking I thought I'd share a science based tip. Don't make the chocolate mousse in 90° weather. It results in a more dense chocolate mouse, because the heat doesn't allow whip cream to set up properly. If you absolutely need to make some emergency chocolate mousse (as we've all had to do) I would recommend allowing your mousse to set up in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Carrots

Pan-Seared Sesame-Crusted Tuna Steaks

Serves 4
  • 3/4 cup Sesame Seeds (I used half black sesame seeds)
  • 4 (8-once) Tuna Steaks, preferably yellowfin ( I used tombo tuna [albacore tuna])
  • 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Spread sesame seeds in a shallow baking dish or pie plate. Pat tuna steaks dry with paper towel; rub 1 tablespoon oil over steaks, then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Press both sides of each steak in sesame seeds to coat.
  2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch non-stick skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add tuna steaks and cook for 30 seconds without moving steaks. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until seeds are golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Using tongs flip tuna steaks carefully and cook, without moving them, until golden brown on second side and centers register 110 degrees (for rare), about 1 1/2 minutes, or 125 degrees (for rare), about 3 minutes. Cut into 1/4-inch thick slices and serve immediately.

Sautéed Shredded Zucchini with Spiced Carrots and Almonds

Serves 4

  • 5 Zucchini, halved lengthwise, seeded and shredded
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 teaspoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1.2 teaspoon Ground Coriander
  • 1/2 golden Raisins
  • 1/2 sliced Almonds toasted
  • 1-2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
  1. Toss zucchini with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Transfer to colander and let drain for 5 to 10 minutes. Place zucchini in center of kitchen bowl and wring out excess moisture in batches if necessary. 
  2. Place zucchini in medium bowl and sepate any large clumps. Combine 2 teaspoons oil and mix.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the coriander and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add zucchini and  golden raisins to skillet, spread into even layer, and cook as directed. Add the sliced almonds and toss to combine before seasoning with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. 
Chocolate mouse

Chocolate-Raspberry Mousse

Serves 6
  • 8 onces Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped finely
  • 4 tablespoons Water
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-Processed Cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons Raspberry-Flavored Liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon Instant Espresso Powder
  • 2 large Eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Heavy Cream chilled
  1. Melt chocolate, water, cocoa, raspberry liqueur, and espresso in medium heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat.
  2. Whisk egg yolks, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, and salt together in medium bowl until mixture lightens in color and thickens slightly, about 30 seconds. Pour melted chocolate into egg-yolk mixture and whisk until combined. Let cool until just warmer than room temperature, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites at medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, increase speed to medium-high, and whip until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Using whisk, stir about one-quarter of whipped egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten it; gently fold in remaining egg whites with rubber spatula until few white streaks remain. 
  4. In now-empty bowl, whip cream on medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, about 15 seconds more. Using rubber spatula, fold whipped cream into mousse until no white streaks remain. Spoon mousse into 6 to 8 individual serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set and firm, at leat 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Serve.

If you're in the market for a new cookbook that actually explains why certain techniques are used, then I recommend this one. The book is filled with pictures and informative tid bits that would help any chef at any skill level improve their techniques and dishes. As always the fantastic photography is all thanks to Katy Weaver! Enjoy!