If you are a fan of rare tuna, this recipe is for you. Most tuna steaks aren’t thick enough to get much of a crust before the fish cooks through. By starting with a section of tuna loin (the muscle that tuna steaks are cut from), you have what looks like a small roast. Cook it directly over as hot a fire as you can get, crusting it on all 3 sides (because tuna loin is roughly cylindrical, turning it twice will brown it all around and give it a dynamic triangular profile), about 4 minutes per side. The center will stay raw, which means that you will have to test for doneness by taking its temperature both in the center and nearer to the edge. It should be well-done (140°F) at its edge, but not much warmer than refrigerator temperature in the center.
Prep: 10 minutes (plus 10 minutes for rub and mop sauce)
Grill: About 12 minutes.
BBQ TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
– Long-handled tongs.
Gas: Direct heat, high (500°F)
Clean, oiled grate
Direct heat, red-hot
12-by-12-inch charcoal bed (about 3 dozen coals)
Clean, oiled grate on lowest setting
Direct heat, red-hot
12-by-12-inch bed, 3 to 4 inches deep
Clean, oiled grate set 2 inches above the fire.
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 6 SERVINGS)
2 pounds tuna loin, 4½ inches long and 3 inches in diameter
1 ounce Thai basil or sweet basil leaves (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon Moroccan Rub
2 teaspoons olive oil
Oil for coating grill grate
1 cup Grapefruit Ponzu Marinade or Mop.
1. Heat the grill as directed.
2. Stab the tuna with a knife about 2 dozen times, and stuff each slit with a leaf of basil. It’s easiest to use the wide end of a chopstick to push the basil into the hole. Rub the outside with the Moroccan rub and coat with the olive oil.
3. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Put the tuna on its long side on the grill, cover, and cook until browned on all 3 sides, about 12 minutes total. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay between 425° and 450°F. It is important that the center of the tuna remain raw; therefore, to judge doneness, imagine a target on one end of the tuna, with a bull’s-eye in the center. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the bull’s-eye should register 50°F, one ring out it should register around 70°F, farther toward the edge it should register about 100°F, and it should read 140°F at the surface.
4. Let the tuna rest for 5 minutes to set up. Slice into 6 steaks, and serve topped with the ponzu sauce.