This is so exciting! The publisher at the Lamorinda Weekly received a reader request for Metro Lafayette's Ahi tuna poke recipe. Why is that so exciting, you might ask? Well, I was a Bon Appetit subscriber for about 20 years and always loved the "RSVP" section where readers requested recipes from places they'd dined. It was always fun to learn about different restaurants around the country and it was especially nice that chefs were happy to share their recipes. I could just imagine the decadent job of travelling to faraway restaurants to sample their cuisine and convince them to give me their secret recipes. Though this recipe didn't involve exotic travel plans, (too bad Metro is not in Fiji), I must thank Kelly Englehart for her interest in Metro's tuna poke that charged me with the fun task of restaurant recipe procurement.
Many of the local restaurants have been terrific in sharing recipes with us, and Metro has come through once again with Englehart's request. Owners Jack and Erika (Pringsheim) Moore were delighted to help us out. Not only did Chef Paul Liao take the time one Friday morning to demonstrate how to make the dish, but he taught me what to look for in fresh tuna, how to carve up the fish, and even how to make the restaurant's signature sesame lavosh that is served with this dish.
Liao was accompanied that morning by the restaurant's new executive chef, Kirk Bruderer, who is returning to his native Lafayette after working with renowned chefs Paul Bertolli at Oliveto, David Kinch at Saratoga's Sent Sovi and Manresa and Thomas Keller at French Laundry in Yountville and Bouchon in Las Vegas. Bruderer also studied overseas, working at Marc Meneau's L'Esperance in France, and Moush-Moush in Lausanne, Switzerland.
"I am happy for the opportunity to bring what I have learned to my home town," Bruderer said.
Though he thoroughly enjoyed his cooking travels, he is glad to be back in his old stomping grounds and able to cook for the hometown crowd. He is making subtle additions to the Metro menu.
Owner Jack Moore says he and Bruderer share similar backgrounds and standards.
"I look forward to working with someone who shares my passion for this business," he said. "I am confident that Kirk's culinary creations will be greatly enjoyed by Metro's patrons."
Menu additions include Wild King Salmon with Du Puy lentils and tarragon beurre blanc, Duck Leg Confit with mushroom-leek risotto and mustard fruits, and Crispy Braised Veal Breast with Swiss chard and parsnips.
But, one menu item the restaurant has served since it opened is the tuna poke.
"After living in Hawaii for a couple of years, with tuna poke available everywhere, I have never tasted one as delicious as Metro Lafayette's," Englehart remarked.
"I order it every time I dine there and even joked to the Metro staff that I'd do dishes for an hour in exchange for the tuna poke recipe! Thank goodness I don't have to since the Lamorinda Weekly did the 'work' for me in acquiring the recipe."
In Hawaii, no gathering would be complete without a serving of poke. Poke literally means "cut piece" or "small piece" in Hawaiian. Poke (pronounced POH-kay) is the Hawaiian version of the Japanese sashimi, but served with marinade and toasted sesame oil.
"Our tuna is always flown in fresh the night before from either Fiji or Hawaii," Liao pointed out. "We prefer to use yellow fin tuna for this dish."
Diablo Foods carries fresh sushi-grade tuna and it is normally in stock. Right now, it is selling for $19.99 per pound. Liao recommends using only fresh, sushi-grade, but he is careful to make sure the fish is truly fresh. He recommends being bold and asking the market exactly when the fish was caught, so you know how fresh it is.
He then uses only the very center of the fish tenderloin for his poke, and trims out any blood lines, which are the very dark spots in the meat. He also uses what he can from the front part of the fish, because toward the head the meat has greater fat content and is therefore very tender, while the meat toward the tail is more muscular, and a little tougher.
Unless you are a fisherman and catch your own tuna, or have a deep-sea fishing friend who brings you a whole fish for your birthday, chances are you'll just purchase the tenderloin at the market and be done with it. But, just in case you ever find yourself in possession of a whole tuna, you'll now know which sections work best for sashimi, sushi or tuna poke! To learn more about tuna poke please visit: http://www.squidoo.com/hawaiian_tuna_poke
METRO LAFAYETTE, 3524 Mt. Diablo Blvd. Lafayette, CA. 94549, (925) 284-4422
HOURS: Metro is open seven days a week from 11:00am to11:00pm Monday - Friday and from 9:00am to 11:00pm on weekends. The bar is open until midnight. Lunch is served daily from 11:00am-3:30pm. Brunch and lunch are served weekends 9:00am-3:30pm. Dinner service begins at 3:30 daily
(Serves 4) INGREDIENTS
12 ounces sushi-grade Ahi tuna, cut
into 1/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 tablespoon chopped scallion
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha hot chili sauce (be
sure to use Tuong Ot Sriracha by Huy Fong
Foods available at most grocers)
1 whole English cucumber, seeded and
cut into 1/4-inch cubes
Ginger Soy Vinaigrette
1-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 cup canola oil
1/3 cup sesame oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 egg white
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
1/3 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup water
METHOD OF PREPARATION
Ginger soy vinaigrette:
Combine ginger and garlic with rice wine vinegar and soy sauce in a blender. While the blender is running on high speed, drizzle in the combination of canola and sesame oils through the opening of the blender lid until the entire mixture turns into a thick emulsion. The vinaigrette's flavor will improve the second day, so make this a day ahead, if possible.
Combine all ingredients with a whisk. The mixture should have a pancake batter consistency. If the batter is too thin, add more flour; add more water if the batter is too thick. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread the batter onto the parchment paper into a thin, even layer. Bake the cracker in a preheated 300-degree convection oven on the middle rack. Rotate the cookie sheet every 8 minutes to ensure even cooking. The baking process should take roughly 15-20 minutes depending upon the speed of the oven. When the cracker is done, it should feel dry in the center and should look evenly browned and crispy. Set aside to cool. Note: If you don't have a convection oven, it will take a bit longer to cook.
To assemble the dish:
Place diced tuna in a mixing bowl. In the following order, pour sesame oil onto the tuna and stir. Then add soy sauce and Sriracha and stir. Next add the ginger, scallion and cilantro and mix well. Set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl, toss the diced cucumbers with 3 tablespoons of ginger-soy vinaigrette.
Place a 4-inch ring mold in the center of each serving plate. First spoon the cucumbers into the ring mold, making an even layer on the bottom. Next place the tuna on top of the cucumbers. Us the back of the spoon to pack the tuna tightly into the ring mold. Insert a piece of sesame cracker into the ring mold, then carefully remove the ring mold from the plate and serve. (Note: Since I don't have 4-inch ring molds, when I served the dish to my dinner guests, I used individual glass bowls, so the layering effect was visible and this worked very well. Metro originally served this dish in martini stems, which would be a very nice touch for the home cook, too!)
Metro suggests pairing this dish with a sparkling rose.