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Ways to add heat to a dish

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

For dinner one night last week, my wife and I made a salad with seared tuna and a soy-ginger dressing. The tuna was great and the salad as a whole was nice. However, after eating it, we both agreed that the dish needed a little kick, so we got into a discussion of ways to add a little heat to the dish. We came up with a few ideas, but I wanted to throw the question out there and see what kind of responses I got.

 

To give you a little more information on the dish, we marinated the tuna in a mixture of rice wine vinegar, ponzu, soy sauce, brown sugar, shredded ginger and garlic. It was seared and slice very thinly, then placed atop a salad of mixed greens (whatever we had on hand, I can't remember exactly what) with julienned carrots and sliced cucumbers.

 

So I pose the question, how would you add a little heat to this dish?

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #2 of 17

Given the Asian preparation I would add a chili paste called Sambal Olek to the marinade. But be careful....a little goes a long way...

post #3 of 17
Considering that everything you did was Japanese-ish, Sambal olek is very powerful, and even in small quantities could be be overwhelming.

Sriracha integrates pretty well with Japanese food -- even though it's Thai/Vietnamese and not Japanese. There are a number of kinds. The most common is the Vietnamese style sauce with the rooster on the squeeze bottle, Huy Fong. "Shark" brand from Thailand is a lot more complex and also very good. The first is addictive and no kitchen is complete without a bottle of Huy Fong. Shark may be even better, but it's hard to find.

Perhaps the most "Japanese" thing to do would be a dab of real or (the more common) faux wasabi.

The Japanese are big consumers of something called togarishi. They're spice mixes which include chili powder, and by western standards are fairly mild. You have to go a long way to hurt even the subtlest flavors. The blends you see most often here in the States are nanami togarishi and shichimi togarishi.

The best approach would probably be to mince some red or green chilis of whatever you consider to be appropriate kick, and just add them in an appropriate amount to the dressing. I'd use serranos or Thai birds, but that's me.

BDL
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post #4 of 17

we serve a teriyaki tuna at the restaurant...sake ginger sauce on the plate with as asian style pesto(ginger, spinach, basil, chili sauce and some other stuff)....be glad to send you the exacts if you like..we make a wasabi "bullet" that goes on the plate as well...wasabi rolled in black sesame seeds.....log shaped...seems to add just the right amount of heat, and you have control as you take a bit with each bite or not, as you like....

joey 

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Great suggestions, all. Sriracha was our first thought, so I'm going to check the local Asian markets to see if I can find Shark brand. We have a bottle of Huy Fong, as every kitchen should, but I'm always interested in trying something new. Wasabi would be nice, but I would most likely only include the real thing. Again something to look for in the Asian market. Serranos seem to be the most obvious, and perhaps easiest, way to go, but I'd like to try a different direction first. I'll have to experiment with a few variants of the dish. In the meantime, I'm always interested in any new suggestions.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #6 of 17

Are you asking about this dish or any dish?  When searing tuna in an asian style like you did I usually marinade the tuna in a similar concoction as yours but I add lots of wasabi (fake).

 

When adding heat to most dishes I usually sprinkle some dried chili flakes while I sweat the onion. 

 

When there is no onion in a dish I use chili oil.  I make it myself by adding chili flakes to olive oil and putting it on the stovetop on the lowest possible heat and let the chili flakes infuse into the oil.  Then I store the oil and use it to sautee or marinate.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 

I was referring to the dish described above. In general, I'm also a big proponent of chili flakes. I also love Louisiana style hot sauces, but don't feel like Tabasco or Crystal is appropriate for delicate seared tuna. 

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #8 of 17

+1 on the Togarishi.  Minced Thai chilis would be the alternative - you might want to seed them before adding though.

post #9 of 17

I would use red chili paste for this dish as it lends itself with the type of cuisine of the dish. Easy does it this stuff is potent and lingers and gets stronger when cooked.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #10 of 17

after thinking about this a bit, and as always this is only my p.o.v., i do not nor would i marinate tuna...just a small rub of sesame oil before grilling. i find that most marinades tend to overpower the subtle but most definate taste of fresh tuna. the great and varied accompaniments should, in my opinion, be just that....if i was to do your tuna dish, i would most likely make some sort of asian vinaigrette(la yu is a great little chili oil) to drizzle over the top...or a carrot sambal...and always wasabi and pickled ginger somewhere in the mix....

joey

ooh, just thought of something that i use sometimes, but it's not japanese...it's thai...trader joe's sells these great thai cashews...they are pretty spicy...great on salads or asian slaw...anything really...so, what makes your dish japanese... the ponzu?


Edited by durangojo - 8/22/11 at 2:11pm

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #11 of 17

I absolutely agree with durangojo not to marinate the tuna at all.

Strangely enough Tylerm, some time ago, I made a sauce that goes very well with tuna and it has almost the same components as your own recipe.

I seared the tuna, sliced and served on deepfried wonton leaves with the sauce drizzled on. I cut the wontons(4"x4") diagonally into 2 triangles and fried them in oil. Takes only a few seconds.

 

Here's my sauce;

1/3 cup of Chinese ShaoXing wine or not too dry sherry/ juice of 2 oranges + juice of 1 lemon + zeste of 1/2 orange / 2 kaffir lime leaves chopped / 1/2 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger / 2 tbsp of not refined cane sugar / 2 green kardemompods(just cracked, seeds kept inside the pod) / 1 small pinch of chili flakes.

Bring to a boil and reduce until there's a syrup consistency left. This may take a while! Add approx. the same amount of good quality Japanese shoyu -or other soy if you like- and heat again but don't let it boil!

Immediately take away from the fire and cover. Leave to cool entirely, then sieve; squeeze every single drop out of the solids that remain in the sieve. Leave in the fridge overnight. You should now have a very glossy deep orange colored sauce with an incredible taste. Drizzle over seared tuna (if you have some left over after tasting too much of the sauce).

 

Important! The sauce will be quite hot as you cooked the ginger and the chili flakes in it for a long time. Please, try first with a small pinch of chili flakes, it will be more than hot enough! 

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

Perhaps it's personal preference, but we'll have to agree to disagree re: marinating the tuna. I like it in this application as it seems to tie the dish together.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #13 of 17

i have a bottle of minced "ghost chillies" just incase your not familiar, there is a scale of the active ingredients of chillies the schoville scale

 

sweet peppers are a zero

pepper spray is 2 million

tabasco is 65 thousand

 

my sauce is 1.2 million

 

a piece the size of a grain of rice will burn your entire mouth for a good 10 minutes

post #14 of 17

To each their own with respect to marinating.  Both approaches are fine.

 

Seared ahi (or other fish) Poke is a very common dish in Hawaii.  Involves making Poke --  cubed marinated raw ahi (or other fish or seafood).  Marinade   frequently uses soy sauce, seaweed (ogo), sesame oil, chopped onion, inamona (roasted kukui nut) and chopped chili's, or other similar marinade variations.  Served raw.  Think of it as pre-seasoned sashimi (not nearly as delicate).  You can make it yourself or buy it at any fish market or supermarket (including Costco).

 

Once you have it, you can sear it if you like (you want it still raw in the middle).  Often served as a stand alone dish with rice (of course in Hawaii, everything is served with rice or it wouldn't be a meal) or with greens as a salad.  I make it first night out when I go camping.

post #15 of 17

I like the idea of  the ghost chili. I like that when you use these really hot chili products you can add heat without really effecting the flavor much. And that sounds like what the OP was looking for.

post #16 of 17

while i agree the addition of some type of pepper would be an easy solution for adding heat, i would steer wide and clear of the ghost chile pepper. being the hottest pepper on our planet, it's pure insanity(and i'm addicted to heat). while they have a ridiculous heat index, they don't have flavor...or maybe because they are just too hot, you can't taste the flavor...whatever, it is totally the wrong chile for asian cuisine(imo, of course). is it no wonder that there are restaurants in texas that make customers sign a waiver when ordering an item containing them..i'd be surprised if they don't remove your throat or stomach lining on its way down...have you thought about szechuan peppercorns(dried)?  they are hot with a hint of star anise flavor....okay, just some random thoughts....oh, you could always make your siracha...

joey


Edited by durangojo - 8/28/11 at 10:21am

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #17 of 17

My preference is to keep it simple.  Roll it in ground Szwechuan papper all over on medium heat for couple mintes, let firm for douple minutes, served sliced as thin as you can on some mesculin, sweet n sour saice for dipping.

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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