Friday, December 3, 2010

Iron Foodie 2010: My Entry--Two Pepper Seared Ahi with Avocado-Dulse Yogurt Sauce, Porcini-Dulse Brown Rice & Smoky Lotus Chips

My mom, wise woman that she is, gave me the title of "Procrastinating Perfectionist"--meaning that I put off doing certain things until the very last minute and then give myself the extra stress of not only jamming it out, but expecting it to go perfectly. It's true... I can't deny it. It's not that I don't want to get things done early, I just have to analyze it repeatedly, change my mind a dozen times, and strive to get whatever it is I am working to it's best possible state. It would probably be better if it didn't actually work for me, but I do seem to do my best work under pressure be it a work assignment, a home project or a cooking task, like the Marx Foods / Foodie BlogRoll Iron Foodie 2010 Contest and my entry, Two Pepper Seared Ahi with Avocado-Dulse Yogurt Sauce, Porcini-Dulse Brown Rice & Smoky Lotus Chips.

Not surprisingly, I was in the kitchen the afternoon before the deadline (which is today), coming up with my dish and the recipes for the four components. It's not that I haven't thought about what I would make ever since I got the box of secret ingredients, I just kept changing my mind and changing direction up to the last minute.

The objective of Iron Foodie 2010 Contest is for the 25 bloggers selected to take at least three of the eight secret ingredients we were sent by Marx Foods to create an original recipe and a dish that is Iron Foodie-worthy to compete with.

The Eight Secret Ingredients:
  • Dried Aji Panca Chilies
  • Bourbon Vanilla Beans
  • Fennel Pollen
  • Dried Wild Porcini Mushrooms
  • Tellicherry Peppercorns
  • Dulse Seaweed
  • Maple Sugar
  • Smoked Sea Salt
An interesting list which first begged the question of doing something savory or something sweet. Since I went sweet with Kabocha Cupcakes with Maple-Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Icing for the last challenge, I decided to go savory this time. Once I determined that I was choosing savory, I knew I wanted to work some local ingredients into the mix, namely ahi and avocado. I also wanted to do something with an Asian flair and maybe get some lotus root in there somehow, because I have been wanting to cook with them.

I went with an appetizer or small plate dish (or pupu as we call them here in Hawaii) and used five of the eight ingredients: Aji Panca Chilies, Dried Wild Porcini Mushrooms, Tellicherry Peppercorns, Dulse Seaweed, and Smoked Sea Salt. Some of the items are used in more than one component of the dish and all the secret ingredients used are highlighted in the recipes below.

Notes/Results: The dish may seem complicated, with a lot of steps and ingredients, but it goes together pretty quickly--cooking the rice takes the longest and you can prepare everything else while the rice cooks. The ahi should be cooked about 10 minutes before serving so it can sit for a few minutes before slicing and the lotus chips made right before serving so they are hot and crispy. (BTW--the ahi is cooked about 4 minutes so just the outside is seared--perfect in my book, but if you really need your fish cooked, buy a cheaper grade of ahi ;-) rather than the sushi-grade and cook it longer.)

The flavors all work well together--you get hits of spiciness from the chili (I left the seeds for grinding in but it is still a rather mild chile) and the black pepper in the ahi, which is cooled by the creamy-tangy yogurt sauce. The mushrooms and dulse add an earthiness to the nutty brown rice, and the chips give good textural contrast. A little (the flavor goes a long way) smoked sea salt in three of the four dishes also ties the flavor together. Sure, from a plating standpoint, having something like a green veggie would have looked nice but overall I am extremely happy with my entry. I would make all of these recipes again in combination or as separate components in different dishes. "Procrastinating perfectionism" works again Mom! ;-)

The Recipes:

Two Pepper Seared Ahi
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 Servings)

1 dried Aji Panca Chile
1/2 tsp Tellicherry Peppercorns
1/4 tsp Smoked Sea Salt
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 sushi-grade ahi tuna block (about 10 ounces)
olive or canol oil

De-stem chile. In a small pan, dry-toast the chili over medium heat until fragrant, about 7-8 minutes. Let cool and chop into small pieces. Place the chile pieces and peppercorns into a spice grinder or coffee grinder until a fine powder and pour into a bowl. Add smoked sea salt and sesame seeds to powder, mix thoroughly and pour mixture on a plate.

Preheat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile dredge ahi block in the pepper mixture, covering all sides and shaking off the excess. When pan is hot, add tuna and sear for 1 minute on each side (for a total of about 4 minutes). If you want a less-rare tuna, you can sear it longer. Remove ahi block from the pan and let site for a few minutes. Slice into 1/4 inch slices and serve.

Porcini-Dulse Brown Rice
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 3 1/2 Cups Cooked Rice)

about 1/3 cup dried Wild Porcini Mushrooms
1 cup brown rice
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown rice vinegar
2 Tbsp Dulse Seaweed, chopped into small pieces
Smoked Sea Salt (1/2 tsp or to taste)
1 heaping Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in 2 1/2 cups hot water for about 20 minutes. Take the mushrooms out of the broth, squeezing out the excess liquid. Cut porcini into small pieces.

Use the 2 cups of mushroom liquid to cook the brown rice in your preferred method. When rice is cooked add the soy sauce and brown rice vinegar and fluff with a rice paddle or fork.
Add the chopped porcini and dulse and season with smoked sea salt to taste Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.


Avocado-Dulse Yogurt Sauce
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled, pit removed, and cut into chunks
juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp Dulse Seaweed
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
water, if need for blending
salt and pepper to taste

Place yogurt, avocado, lime juice, dulse and sesame oil into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add water if needed to get dressing to the proper consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Smoky Lotus Root Chips
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

1 medium lotus root (about 6-8 inches)
peanut or canola oil (enough to fill wok pan for deep-frying)
Smoked Sea Salt

Peel lotus root, slice into 1/8" slices with a mandoline, and pat dry with paper towels. Meanwhile, heat oil (about 2 inches deep) in a large wok or deep-sided pan. When oil is hot, add lotus root slices, a few at a time and cook until golden brown. Remove from oil. place on a plate covered with paper towels and while lotus root is still hot, quickly sprinkle with a small amount of smoked sea salt. Serve immediately.

On December 7th the polls will open for voting on the Food BlogRoll to award one person the Iron Foodie 2010 title and a $300 credit to Marx Foods, so I will post the link when the poll is up and if you like the looks and description of my dishes (remember I used 5 ingredients lol!), I would really love a vote from you.

BTW: On a Marx Foods related note--although I am tempted to keep this secret so I have a better chance of winning, Marx Foods is offering a Specialty Sausage Giveaway, giving away a pack of 12(!) varieties of Specialty Sausage. Click on the badge to go check it out.

Win Twelve Varieties of Specialty Sausage at

Happy Aloha Friday!


  1. this looks and sounds delicious!!

  2. You did wonderfully with this Deb! I especilly love the sound of that yogurt sauce. I don't know where I'll find dulse but I'm going to hunt it down so I can try this! I am a big perfectionists procrastinator as well. But it always works out, right?

    Good luck with the contest! And also with the sausage. I've had MarxFoods sausage and it's GOOD. But I have no room in my freezer for it. So...yeah.

  3. FANTASTIC job Deb! This is a pupu I would love to take ;) (okay, sorry) The tuna looks absolutely perfect and you incorporated the "special" ingredients so seamlessly! Fingers crossed!!! :D

  4. Deb this all looks so good! I want to make the lotus chips, and the yougurt sauce, and the rice...okay everything! Yumm! All at the last minute? lol!

  5. Awesome job! The lotus chips look great and add nice touch to the presentation. The avocado yogurt sauce sounds like something I'd really like. Good luck!

  6. Wow! What an amazing dish. I adore seared Ahi! You did a wonderful job w incorporating those ingredients.
    Good Luck!

  7. Wow, what a beautiful presentation, Deb! That seared ahi looks fantastic! Thanks for participating!

  8. This is a really impressive dish, Deb. I really like how you touched on spicy and smoky with the peppers and balanced it all out with the cool creamy yogurt sauce. You definitely have a lot of great flavor combinations and textures going on in this dish. Very iron chefy indeed! I'd love to try those lotus chips. They're really pretty.

  9. How gorgeous, Deb! Beautiful presentation, and, it looks amazing! Thank you also for the sausage giveaway head's up -- if I don't win, I hope you do :)

  10. Wow, that looks like something you'd see in an upscale restaurant. You've really outdone yourself. By the way, I'm holding a giveaway on my blog for Orglamix Organic makeup and you're welcome to come by and enter.

  11. This looks incredible Deb! The presentation is gorgeous! You described me to a tee - right down to the analyzing!


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