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Ahi Dashi
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Ahi Dashi

While 'Ahi' can refer to both Bluefin and Yellowfin, we are using the non-endangered Yellowfin Tuna. This is definately a Pasific dish made because I needed to do something with the Bonito flakes I had purchaced after the Leek Soup dish. This dish will make your kitchen smell like fish, so be warned.

What you will need

What to do

If you don't know where to get a hold of Kombu and Katsuobushi (I find both in the seaweed aisle of my local oriental grocery), or don't want to hassle with making your own stock, instant Dashi is available on the market and will do the job. As I said, I was trying to use up the otherwise unneeded Katsuobushi, so I made the stock from scratch.

Add water to your stock pot to about the same volume as your Bonito flakes (without taking the air out) and place over heat. With shears, cut the dried kelp into two inch wide strips and add them to the pot - don't use more than four or five of these strips, most packages have far more kelp than you need. Add a lid and let it simmer until the kelp resembles fresh seaweed in appearance. It will be very green and quite obvious. Remove the kelp from the water with tongs and discard. Add the bonito flakes to the water and push them down until all are fully submerged. Replace the lid and let it boil until the bonito flakes clump together and look stringy. You will note the fishy aroma I warned you about.

Place your straining device over your second pot or bowl and drain the stock pot into it, straining out the fish flakes while saving the water. Discard the fish flakes and rinse down everything at once - you do not want the Bonito flakes drying to your strainer. Either place the dutch oven on the burner abandoned by the stock pot, or if you used a bowl instead, return the rinsed stock pot to the burner and return the stock to it. The stock will have lost some heat and will need time to return to a near boil. Lid the pot and use this time to clean up after the Bonito flakes. It's best to do this before they dry out.

With the stock once again heated up, gently add your tuna to the water. If it is hot enough, the outside of the tuna will instantly turn white - this is a good sign. Lid the pot again and turn your attention to the sauce. In the small bowl, mix some of the hoisen sauce with the spices you have selected. The back of a tablespoon works well for integrating dried spices with the liquids. Now you simply have to decide how well done you want your tuna. Leave it to boil long enough to reach that level of doneness then lift it out with your tongs and remove the heat. Don't be afraid to split it open to check the interior, it's hard to tell these things from the outside. Plate and serve with the sauce.

--Robert McCarroll