Keeping calorie count low but party potential high


Weight-watchers will like this menu featuring tuna, as will everyone else


April 13, 2003|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Special to the Sun

Two friends, who on any given weekend usually have some social gathering marked on their calendars, confided the same thing to me recently. Each confessed that although they love being invited out to dinner, the typically rich meals served on such occasions were wreaking havoc with their weight. As guests, nothing would please them more, they declared, than to encounter an interesting menu that wasn't laden with fat.

My choice for a light spring menu began with a soup made of chicken stock with fresh peas, scallions, snow peas and penne pasta. Grilled tuna steaks mounded with a fresh orange and water chestnut salsa would be paired with bundles of asparagus and rice sprinkled with chives and toasted sesame seeds. Strawberries splashed with Grand Marnier, then dusted with cardamom-scented sugar, would make a simple finale.

Distributed by Tribune Media Services International.

Grilled Tuna With Orange and Water Chestnut Salsa

four 8-ounce tuna steaks, each about 1 inch thick

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus 2 teaspoons for salsa

2 large navel oranges

1/2 cup drained and sliced water chestnuts, chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

2 teaspoons peeled and minced ginger root

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro plus 4 sprigs for garnish

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (see Note)

vegetable oil for oiling grill rack

salt, freshly ground black pepper

Place tuna in a nonreactive, shallow dish. Whisk together wine, orange juice and 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce in a mixing bowl and pour over the fish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 4 hours.

Grate the zest from the oranges to yield 2 teaspoons and place in a nonreactive medium mixing bowl. With a sharp knife, remove the peel and all the white pith from the oranges. Remove the orange segments by cutting between the membranes. Cut each segment in half crosswise, and place in the mixing bowl. Add the water chestnuts, onion, ginger root, chopped cilantro, sesame oil, remaining 2 teaspoons soy sauce and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Mix gently. Taste, and if you want a spicier flavor, add remaining 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. (Salsa can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

When ready to grill tuna, oil a grill rack and arrange it 4 to 5 inches from heat source. Prepare grill for a hot fire (high temperature). Salt and pepper tuna on both sides. Grill until just a thin line of pink remains in center of each steak, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcook, or tuna will be dry.

To serve, place steaks on a platter. Divide salsa evenly and top each steak with salsa and a cilantro sprig.

Note: I like this Orange and Water Chestnut Salsa on the spicy side and always use the full amount of red pepper flakes.

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