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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

August 27, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Seattle Chef Tom Douglas offers tips on serving albacore tuna

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(Photo courtesy of John Lok, Seattle Times staff photographer)

The albacore tuna fishery off the coast started off on a high note earlier this month, and has now hit a crescendo with many anglers off Ilwaco, Westport, Neah Bay and La Push loading up on this delightfully tasting fish.

Anglers will be brining home slabs of tuna in the coming weeks, and Chef Tom Douglas offers some ways to prepare them for a great seafood dining experience.

This season we’ll have weekly recipes and advice through October on how to cook up and dish out a wide variety of local seafood by experts like Anthony’s Restaurant; Tiffany Haugen, Outdoor Cooking expert/author; tackle shop owners; local seafood-market owners; and fishing guides and charter services.

Douglas is owner of Assembly Hall; Brave Horse Tavern; Cuoco; Dahlia Lounge; Dahlia Bakery; Etta’s; Home Remedy; Lola; Palace Kitchen; Rub With Love Shack; Seatown; Serious Pie Westlake; Serious Biscuit Westlake; Serious Pie Virginia; and Tanaka San.

Here is Douglas’ advice on how to prepare them, and wow your guests at the next meal:

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(Photo courtesy of Ryan Nakata with a nice albacore tuna he caught off Ilwaco.)

Albacore tuna has a mild flavor that’s delicious served raw or seared briefly on the outside so that it’s still rare on the inside. Albacore’s bigger cousins, the bluefin and yellowfin, are firmer tunas with rosier flesh, but albacore has the advantage of sporting a “Best Choice” rating from the Monterey Bay Aquarium as long as you choose American or Canadian Pacific troll or pole caught albacore tuna.

One of my favorite ways to eat albacore is tuna poke. Poke (po-KAY) is a Hawaiian word for a raw fish appetizer often made with diced raw tuna dressed with sesame oil, seaweed, and soy, though there are many variations.

I particularly like the albacore tuna poke that Chef Adrienne prepares at Seatown.   Adrienne fills the bottom of a small mason jar with ocean salad (a prepared seaweed salad- you can buy it at Uwajimaya) and cucumber slices, then tops it with the diced and sesame-ginger-soy dressed albacore. A dish of tuna poke and a chilled glass of sake or soju (Korean sake) will get any Seattle summer evening off to the right start.

A chunk of seared albacore tuna, salted and peppered, then seared rare in a little oil in a hot skillet for just a minute or so per side, is the perfect addition to a savory plate of fried rice. Just slice the tuna across the grain and fan those mild, meaty slices over the top of the rice.

When frying the rice, I like to add thinly sliced lup chong (sweet Chinese sausage), sliced green onions, and a handful of drained and chopped kimchi for a spicy, funky kick.

My business partner Eric takes his cue from a Tanaka family recipe that includes chopped and cooked bacon and a good glug of ketchup which gets crusty and caramelized in the hot skillet of rice.

If you have an abundance of albacore tuna, you can poach it gently in a court bouillon (white wine, water, and aromatics), then chill it. Then flake up the tuna and make an old fashioned tuna salad. If you want to push this over the top, do what my Seatown cooks do and turn it into a luxurious tuna melt.

Add chopped Mama Lil’s peppers, a touch of horseradish and whole grain mustard, and a pinch of Old Bay to the mayo for your albacore tuna salad. Pile the tuna salad onto the bottom half of a griddled, buttered bun and top with slices of Beecher’s cheese.   Bake until the cheese is melted, then cover the sandwich with the top half of the bun. Serve immediately with pickle wedges and potato chips.

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