Monday, June 7, 2010

Tuna at Sea!

For Memorial Day weekend, Adam and I packed up and spent the weekend in Austin with my Mom and her husband Bill. I decided it would be fun to prepare my next recipe down there for the Holiday weekend AND because the only grill they have is on their amazing boat! So not only was it for the perfect occasion, but I had the experience of grilling on a boat for the first time.

There were a lot of ingredients involved in this recipe, but luckily I had most of them already in my pantry. So I packed up everything I could take with me to Austin, that way I could avoid having to spend money on ingredients I already had. We had decided we would do the burgers on Sunday, so Saturday night my Mom and I hit up the HEB. FYI, I wish we had a HEB here for me to shop at, because it is like Central Market and the neighborhood grocery store had a baby and created this awesome shopping place! We were able to find everything we needed, except the fresh tuna steaks, because the meat shop had already closed down for the night. In fact, the whole store was closing down, but my Mom and I were able to sneak in and power shop! We just decided we would wake up early and go back to get the tuna steaks in the morning. It turned out that early for us was actually 10am in the morning. We all accidentally slept in, but it was ok because that is what vacation is all about. Once we were up and at 'em, off we went, back to HEB. We walked up to the meat counter and all I saw were ahi tuna steaks, which are SUPER expensive ($18/lb expensive). So we asked the nice "meat lady" where we could find tuna steaks and she pointed us to the freezer section and told us they were actually on sale that week! PERFECT! So instead of $18 per lb for ahi tuna, we were able to get 4 tuna steaks, about a lb a peice, for $18 total! It was definitely a sigh of relief for me to not spend almost $70 on tuna!

Once we got back to the house, I decided to do most of my prep work there, before going on the boat. That way, all I had to do on the boat was grill my poblano peppers and tuna burgers. Plus with this recipe, the prep work takes longer than the actually cooking portion does. Since we all wanted to get to the boat as soon as possible, I had my lovely sous chef step in and help (aka Mom). Side note: Apparently Adam and my Mom don't really LIKE to be my sous chef because they say I'm bossy (inside joke)! I say, have you ever seen Gordon Ramsey? I'm not even close to being as bossy as him!! Anyway, she started chopping away at the onions, dill pickles & cilantro for the green chile-pickle relish, while I started on the Pineapple-mustard glaze. The glaze was super easy, you just throw the pineapple juice, vinegar, chopped (fresh) ginger, soy sauce and brown sugar into a sauce pan and turn the stove on high to bring it all to a boil. One thing I have learned is NEVER try and watch something boil. It knows you are watching and will take forever! Simply walk away and start prep on another item. Once I walked away and showed my sous chef how to properly chop everything, my glaze came to a boil. I then reduced the heat to low, where is was just simmering and left it.

By this time, my tuna had completely thawed out and it was time to start on the burgers. I wanted to go ahead and get them formed and ready for the boat. I have to admit I wasn't sure if I was suppose to cube the tuna or chop it like ground beef, or what? In cases like this, I refer to the Internet and find the show in which the recipe was made. I watched as Bobby cut the tuna and realized you should cube it into medium sized pieced, rather than beat it to a pulp where it looks like ground beef. You want the tuna to retain its texture and be somewhat durable. Away I chopped and I chopped, and chopped some more until I finally had all the tuna cubed up and in a bowl. After I had it all the bowl, I added in the dijon mustard, chipotle puree (which was just the sauce from the chipotle in adobo can), honey, oil, green onions, and a dash of salt and pepper. I gently combined everything together and started forming my patties. I also referred to the internet and the show to see exactly how to form a tuna patty. It was actually a lot easier than I thought. Although, since my hands are smaller, the burgers turned out to be smaller! You simply grab a chunk in your hand and form it into a ball and toss it back and forth between your two hands to get the cubes of tuna to form together into one single patty. You want to make sure the patty is super tight, so it doesn't fall apart when cooking it. The burgers were formed and then placed directly in the freezer to keep them super cold. Another REALLY important thing when making tuna burgers!

Once the patties were made, my sauce was just about done so I whisked in my dijon mustard and removed it from the heat. Then I added my fresh lime juice and white pepper and placed that in our cooler to go to the lake. It needs time to cool, so it can thicken up further. In all honesty I would have liked it a little bit thicker, but all in all it came out perfect. The only thing left to finish at this point was the green chile-pickle relish. My sous chef had everything chopped and in tupperware, so we simply added in lime juice, honey, olive oil and salt & pepper. We all worked together to make sure everything was packed on ice and on we went to the lake!

Of course when we got to the lake we HAD to hang out and swim and goof off for a little while before we ate! But after all the fun, we set up the grill on the back of the boat and I started grilling my poblano peppers. All the other boats were SUPER jealous that we had a grill, it was a good feeling! My poblano peppers grilled up perfectly on the "boat grill". They were de-gutted once they were done grilling, which is basically skinning them and taking out all of the seeds from their insides. Then it was just a matter of getting them diced up and put into the pot with all the other yummy ingredients for the green chile-pickle relish. The time had come for my tuna burgers and just as everything was going perfect, I noticed the grill wasn't hot anymore. We knew we were low on propane, so Adam grabbed another bottle and went to put it on and BAM...the bottle dropped off the valve. Over and over he tried to put it on and it just wouldn't stay. After he investigated, we learned that the valve was stripped and tried EVERYTHING to make the propane stay on. After about 20 minutes and a whole role of tape later, we came to the conclusion the grill was no longer an option. I must say I was a little sad because I wanted to do everything "by the book" and grill my burgers, but I had to go with the flow and it turned out to be GREAT!!

Not only does the boat have a grill, but it also has a kitchen! So I put the burgers in the saute pan and started "grilling" them up and glazing them with my pineapple-mustard glaze. While we were cooking, my sous chef and I realized that we were kind of glad the grill didn't work out. The burgers cooked up great and the glaze adheared a lot better than it would have on the grill. It turned out to be a PERFECT storm!! No, not the movie where the boat sinks...this was a good thing to come out of an unexpected situation. Some of Mom and Bill's friends, Jan & Gordon were able to join us. Without going into a whole other story about the awesomeness of it, let me just say that Gordon makes the most amazing tuna dip I have ever had in my entire life!! He was kind enough to make us some, which went along amazing with the burgers. We all put our burgers together, first the way the recipe calls for with just the green chile-pickle relish (I was adament about no one using mustard or ketchup on their first burger), then we all put our own spin on our burgers and added tuna dip or another amazing artichoke/jalapeno dip that Jan brought! Bill and Adam were the champion tuna burger eaters...I think between the both of them they ate 7 1/2 tuna burgers in ONE sitting! It was truly amazing to watch them eat that much. Of course they waited 30 minutes before swimming again, once we were all done.

It was an amazing experience to be able to grill on the boat! I wish I could do that every weekend, but it was nice to have a "special treat" for my recipe! We had a blast and by far it was the best Memorial Day weekend ever. I was elated that everyone liked my tuna burgers so much! I will definitely keep this recipe in the back of my mind for future grilling parties! Last, but not least, I must say a HUGE thank you to all the men and women who have lost their lives in battle, have served and came home or are currently serving. Their courage is beyond anything I could ever imagine and they will never be forgotten. Thank you for allowing us to be able to go to bed at night peacefully without bombs exploding overhead and for giving us the right to live and speak freely!

Recipe Rating: Medium, there are a lot of steps involved
Good Leftover: Mom & Bill ate the tuna burgers the next day and said they were just as good, if not better than the first day!
Tip: Always be flexible when cooking. The unexpected might happen...role with it, you never know when you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Stay tuned in 2 weeks- Shredded Chicken and Tomatillo Tacos with Queso Fresco

You can find the Tuna Burgers with Pineapple-Mustard Glaze and Green Chile-Pickle Relish recipe here:

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