I know this is a couple of weeks after the fact, but this was only the third Valentine's Day ever that I had actually been dating anyone, and only the second time that it wasn't long distance. In general, I feel that Valentine's Day is big load of crap invented by corporations to get us to buy more stuff, but these last couple of years it has given me a chance to exercise some creativity in the kitchen. This year dinner turned out particularly well, if a bit expensive. A couple of photos and some details on the dishes are posted after the jump.
First off was a spinach-zucchini bisque. Let me note right off the bat that very little of the food I cook in general is what one would consider healthy, but then again fat just tastes good. However, this particular meal was especially off the charts. I mean, there was cream in every course of the meal. Can't have bisque without cream, you know.
The main course was a seared tuna steak with Sriracha hot sauce and wasabi-cream paste. It was served along with blanched asparagus spears and a shiitake risotto (not pictured). As an aside, I felt like a total rock star when I bought the tuna. I purchased it at Central Market's seafood counter (where I paid a 25% premium on it due to it being Central Market). For those of you who are in the know, Central Market is H-E-B's premium brand supermarket, and while the Austin version is populated by crunchy granola hippies, the Houston version is populated by cutthroat River Oaks housewives. I, of course, went to the store dressed one step above a raggedy bum - my standard attire. However, when the guy behind the seafood counter asked me what I wanted and I pointed to the yellowfin tuna loin, all of a sudden I got the look - the one that says "Oh, you know your shit" - from the staff. Before too long I had three employees crowded around (it doesn't take three employees to cut a hunk of tuna) asking me what I was going to do with it. I ended up buying about a six-inch chunk, about 3.75 lbs. It was the most beautiful item of food I have ever purchased. The slab you see above on the plate is approximately three-quarters of a pound. What did I do with the rest, you ask? Well a good bit of it was eaten raw, and I flash froze the rest (this is the true advantage of working in a laboratory where you have easy access to liquid nitrogen).
Anyway, I cut 1.5 inch thick steaks off of the loin and marinated them (shallowly) in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil, and sesame oil (3:2:1:2) with some dill and freshly cracked black pepper in a plastic container in the fridge. I only let about the bottom 1/4 inch sit in the marinade. After a few hours, I flipped the container and allowed the other side to marinate. I then heated up my cast iron pan (my favorite piece of cookware) with a nice coating of olive oil and sesame oil over very high heat for a few minutes. I rolled the edges of the tuna steaks in a Japanese seasoning consisting of bonito flakes, sesame seeds, and seaweed, and then seared them in the pan on high heat for 2 minutes per side. They turned out perfectly raw in the middle, which is the way I like it.
I decorated the plate with Sriracha hot sauce (the rooster kicks ass) and a wasabi cream paste I made by simply taking some wasabi from a tube (I know, it's not real wasabi, it's horseradish) and mixing it about 1:1 with some heavy cream. It'll be a pale green; you can punch up the color by adding a little dollop of the spinach-zucchini bisque.
Dessert was a simple chocolate mousse (not pictured) with some fresh raspberries. Wine was a bottle of Ridge 2001 late-picked York Creek zinfandel (78% zinfandel, 20% petite sirah, 2% carignane), which doesn't necessarily pair super-well with the menu, but I loves me my zinfandel. And yes, I know that I need to get a food stylist for my photos. I'm not sure where one goes to find one, though.