Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
Recently, Food Network aired an episode of Chopped (“Cleaver Fever”) where the appetizer round featured tuna belly (was it otoro or toro? It looked like otoro to me). During the appetizer preparation, one of the cheftestants commented that cooking the tuna belly could risk turning it into ‘cat food’ –
(see time indices 5:06-5:14)
Matsuhisa-sama comments on the matter in his cookbook –
…So I sear parts of it (toro) like a rare steak – sizzling on the outside and raw on the inside, with an impressive “melt-in-the-mouth” texture…served with plain short-grain rice…my American customers…are able to enjoy the toro steak on its own terms. – Nobu: The Cookbook (p. 96)
So this past Thursday (11 Jul 2013), I decided to do my take Nishino’s red wine soy reduction dish and used toro to consolidated/swap out the maguro and foie gras ingredients.
When making cooked otoro/toro, I normally cook it in 1/3 lb (a little more than 5 oz) portions. Kawamura-san at Sakanaya, Allston usually supplies me with a ~3/4″ thick cut of the otoro/toro. To start, I at least season each portion of the otoro/toro with 1 to 2 3-finger pinches of 4:1 salt/pepper mix all over. If I’m doing one of the Nobu dishes, then I make up a seasoning mix of a teaspoon of 4:1 salt/pepper mix, with 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder (yes, yes, I know – Matsuhisa-sama dabs on freshly grated garlic) added. With the salt/pepper/garlic powder (think ‘dry rub’) mix, I then season the portions with 1 to 2 3-finger pinches of the seasoning mix.
I normally dry sear the sides on high heat (and not pulling on the otoro/toro until it is able to detaches itself easily from the pan). At that point,the temperature is lowered to 50% max power (“medium”) and cooks about two minutes a side (the ‘wide sides’). In that way, it’s cooked on the outside and rare in the core (sort of a rare side of medium). For those for whom I’ve made this item that are squeamish about ‘sashimi’ interior, I’ll cook it about three minutes a side. Cooking it about three minutes a side will get that just-cooked-through doneness that still allows the otoro/toro to retain its juciness.