First, I must apologise to Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! and all his readers and followers. This post was supposed to have been up yesterday, Sunday 2 May, but I was hit by stomach flu late on Saturday night and have been flat on my back in bed until today, Monday. I hope late truly is better than never? Now, here's my treat for you today, Lazaro's eagerly awaited and slightly overdue guest post! Those who have been following me more or less regularly will know how much I admire his kitchen wizardry and everything that he stands for. I cannot say enough how very grateful I am that Lazaro has taken time out of his very busy schedule to indulge my request that he make an appearance on my blog. Eating at his table must be like dining in a five-star restaurant. But, don't take my word for it, see for yourself. So, without further ado, I give you Lazaro!

Hello readers of Quickies on the Dinner Table, my name is Lazaro, I am one half of the creative team behind the blog Lazaro Cooks!  It is an honor to be on this incredible blog.  Denise is a fantastic cook, writer, and Mom.  There is no way I will reach the standard she sets here daily.  I will only endeavor not to embarrass myself.

To my amazing readers, I cannot thank you enough, you inspire me daily.

Creation in the kitchen is air in my lungs.  The best way to describe my cuisine is deconstructive.  I take great joy in breaking down classic dishes to their baseline levels and deliberate building them up in my own style.  Tonight I hosted a dinner party at my abode and this particular dish was the third course I served.

Yellowfin tuna caught in the Atlantic Ocean via pole and long line is a great sustainable fish.  For more information on sustainable fish please visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium website.  With “Living Green” all the rage these days, supporting sustainable fish is a most neglected issue.  This is unfortunate because our Oceans are on the brink of disaster.  Okay PSA over.  Tuna is referred to as the beef of the sea.  In turn, it must be seared to a crusty exterior, while the inside is moist and juicy.  I made a tangy lemongrass vinaigrette to drizzle over the cooked tuna at plating time.  Be warned it is quite strong, so use it sparingly.

When a course has a few components you must perfectly execute each one.  This dish is loaded with different and unexpected flavors.  Tofu is bland and tasteless.  Therefore we have to wake it up.  I made a chili Ponzu based glaze for the tofu.  The key to cooking the tofu is high heat and a heavy-bottom pan.  The trick is to caramelize the glaze on the surface of the tofu, so that when you bite into it, you get a hot-cold sensation.  It is quite unexpected.  In addition, I made a “Black olive oil” to plate on the base of the tofu, delivering another layer of flavor.

The “salad” portion of the dish is black sesame seeds, zucchini ribbons, edible flowers, avocado, mango and Thai peanut sauce.  Serve this dish at your next dinner party and you will be an absolute superstar.

NOTE: You will need a “rack” to let the tuna & tofu rest.  A rack is a wire-rack over a plate.  It allows for the cooked product to rest and excess moisture to drain off.

For the Tuna:

2 – 8oz Yellowfin tuna Saku blocks

White pepper

Fleur de Sel 

1.Remove the tuna from the refrigerator 10 minutes before cooking.  Pat dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture.
2.Heat a heavy-bottom pan over medium heat.  Add 2 tbs grape seed oil.
3.Season the tuna on both sides with white pepper. (DO NOT SALT)
4.When the pan is very hot add the tuna.  The goal is to sear the outside.  Use your eyes.  Maybe 60 to 90 seconds per side.  Brown crust good…Black crust no good!
5.Remove with a spatula to the rack to rest.  Season both sides with the Fleur de Sel.

For the Lemongrass Vinaigrette:

2 tbs avocado oil

½ tbs Ume plum vinegar

½ tbs soy sauce

1 tsp grated lemongrass

1 tsp organic honey

½ tsp water

1.In a glass bowl, combine all the above ingredients.
2.Whisk vigorously to emulsify.
3.Set aside.

For the Tofu:

12 oz Firm organic tofu

White pepper

Onion powder

Curry powder

Fleur de Sel

For the Chili Ponzu Glaze:

2 tbs Walnut oil

1 tsp Bird’s eye chili – (small dice)

1 tsp organic honey

1 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp fig vinegar

½ tsp grated ginger

1.In a glass bowl, combine the ingredients for the glaze.  Whisk vigorously to emulsify.  Set aside.
2.Remove the tofu 15 minutes from the refrigerator before cooking. Pat dry with paper towel to remove excess moisture.
3.Season one side with white pepper, onion powder, and curry powder.
4.Heat a heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tbs of grape seed oil to the pan.
5.When the pan is quite hot, add 3 tbs of the chili Ponzu glaze.
6.Lay the tofu, seasoned side down, on the glaze.
7.Once the exterior of the tofu is caramelized remove to the rack to rest caramelized side up.
8.Season the top side with Fleur de Sel.

For the Black Olive Oil:

2 cups Kalamata olives

High quality Greek olive oil

Fleur de Sel

1.Preheat the oven to 180 F.
2.Add the olives to an oven-safe dish.
3.Dry out olives in the oven for 8 hours.
4.In a blender, add the olives and a pinch of Fleur de Sel.
5.Add enough olive oil to allow the blender to turn.
6.Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

To Plate:

1.Make 2 small mounds of black sesame seeds.  Stand two zucchini ribbons on the mounds.  Add an edible flower inside each ribbon.  Quite obviously it is a potted flower effect.
2.Center two pieces of tuna.  Lightly glaze with the lemongrass vinaigrette.
3.Make 2 small dots of black olive oil.  Place a piece of the tofu on each.
4.Finish the dish with the avocado, mango and Thai peanut sauce.  The peanut sauce should be near the flowers.

That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!