Seared Tuna Filets

Submitted by Chef Donald Barickman
Magnolias Restaurant
Charleston, South Carolina

This tuna dish is Mediterranean style and heart-healthy, with no butter used. It all comes together nicely with the aromatic rice, artichoke salad, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a little sprinkle of coarse sea salt. Even though artichokes are not indigenous to the South, I love to cook with this versatile vegetable.

Serves 4

The Artichokes

  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 fresh artichokes

Put the water, olive oil, and salt in a non-reactive pot (stainless or porcelain coated). Zest the lemon and reserve both the lemon and the zest. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the water, and put the lemon halves into the water also. Pare the artichokes down to the heart, just removing the leaves and keeping the choke intact with the artichoke bottom. Immediately put the artichokes in the water. Place the pot over medium high heat and bring to a simmer. Let the artichokes simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the artichokes cool in the cooking liquid about 20 minutes, which will allow them to finish cooking.

Remove the artichokes from the water and ease the choke out with your thumb and discard. Return the artichokes to the cooking liquid to hold until ready to use.
The Warm Salad of Artichoke, Lemon, Leek, and Capers

The Rice

If using a rice steamer, rinse the rice as you usually would and drain well. Use a one cup of water to one cup of rice ratio for steaming the rice. The following is a one-pot method.

  • 2 cups Carolina Plantation Aromatic Rice (about 1 pound)
  • 3 cups water

Rinse the rice with cold water until the water is clear. Place the rice and the water in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot and cover with a lid. Place the pot over medium-low heat and allow it to come to a boil slowly. Reduce the heat and cook the rice slowly for 12 to 15 minutes. It’s best not to peek and allow the steam to escape. When the rice has finished cooking, steam holes should be present at the surface of the rice and all of the water should have been absorbed by the rice.

Remove the pot from the heat and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve immediately or within minutes.

Salad of artichokes, lemon and leeks and capers

This recipe works best with leeks that are 3/4 to 1-inch in diameter.

  • 1 cup circular leek slices, cut 3/8-inch thick
  • 4 tablespoons highest quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon garlic cloves, sliced into very thin slices
  • 1 teaspoon of reserved lemon zest
  • Artichoke bottoms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Wash the leeks well, but try to keep the slices intact. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over low heat. Add the leeks and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook until soft. Do not brown. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest, the artichokes, capers, and parsley. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat, drizzle with the additional 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and toss gently. Loosely cover and keep warm.

The Tuna

  • 4 (4 to 5-ounce) tuna filets about 1 1/4 inches thick
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup light olive oil

Season the tuna with the sea salt and pepper on both sides of the filet. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Carefully sear the filets until they are golden brown. Gently turn them over and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes for medium rare.

To finish

  • 1 recipe Carolina Aromatic Rice
  • 1/2 cup highest quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar, reduced to 1/4 cup over medium heat and cooled
  • Coarse sea salt

Place about 1/4-cup of the cooked rice on the plate, place the warm salad around the rice, and place the tuna on top of the rice. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar around the outer edges of the warm salad. Sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt and the reserved 1/2-teaspoon of lemon zest. Serve immediately.