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Recipe: Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice

Recipe: Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice

When I arrived in Los Angeles for college, I adhered to a strange PopTart-heavy diet that strictly excluded three alliterative things -- sushi, seafood and spice. That was until a very dear and very smart friend introduced me to spicy tuna on crispy rice, which quite literally changed the way I ate.

When I moved from LA to NYC, spicy tuna on crispy rice was only available at a few places around town and they were generally overpriced, sad versions of the incredible ones I could order just about anywhere in Los Angeles. So I vowed to make my own, but I could only find frozen sushi-grade tuna. I have a strange aversion to working with frozen meat and fish, so it wasn't until I was grocery shopping in Hong Kong that I realized I had access to fresh sashimi-grade fish that I could use.

My husband and I spent one whole Sunday making the best spicy tuna on crispy rice I've had. I'm not saying I'm Jiro or anything, but I'm pretty sure our version was better than 90 percent of the ones I've had in the past. Here's how we went about it. 

First, we read every blog we could find with recipes -- including Gwyneth Paltrow's. Apparently the internet decided to tackle spicy tuna on crispy rice circa 2010, but we just joined the party.

There are three components to this dish. First, you have to make sushi rice. Then you have to make the spicy tuna spread. Lastly, you have to mold and fry the rice. To make 8 pieces, you'll need about 1 cup of rice and 100g of fresh sashimi-grade tuna. 

1. Making Sushi Rice

Purchase rice that's either labeled as sushi rice or short-grain white rice. We followed Alton Brown's recipe here and made 2 cups, but there are tons on the internet worth checking out. We definitely overcooked the rice. The good news is that overcooked rice just made it stickier and easier to mold into our desired rectangular shape. Once you've cooked the rice, toss with a sugar and rice vinegar mixture and let it sit. 

2. Making Spicy Tuna

  • 100g fresh sashimi-grade tuna, minced (in HK, you can buy it minced in the grocery's sushi area, and it comes in 100g containers).
  • 6g kewpie mayo
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp scallions, chopped
  • Sriracha to taste

Mix the tuna, sesame oil and scallions together. Add kewpie mayo next (and add more than the recipe suggests if you want). Then add sriracha to taste.

3. Mold and Fry the Rice

Some recipes suggest using an ice cube tray or other gimmicks, but we just molded the rectangles by hand once the rice reached room temperature. Mold the rice into your desire shape and let sit. 

Fill the pan a quarter-inch high with olive oil (for reference, you want the oil to come up about half way up the rectangle once you put it in to fry). Turn the flame on med-high. Make sure the oil has heated up, then place the rectangles in the pot. Control the heat. Lower the flame to reduce the oil from splattering, but don't turn the flame down too low so the rice stops frying. 

Be patient. Let the rice fry for at least 5 minutes or until golden brown. Then flip and cook the other side. Remove from the pot or pan once you've reached the desired color, and let sit on a paper towel-lined dish to soak excess oil. The whole time you're making this recipe, just keep in mind that you know what the dish should look like at the end. 

4. Put It All Together!

Spoon desired amount of spicy tuna mixture over each crispy rice rectangle. Top with sliced jalapeno (optional) and a splash of soy sauce. 

Pair with a cold sake and enjoy!

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