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Guilty pleasures, Recipes

Guilty pleasures: spicy tuna with crispy rice lollipops

I feel like a bit of a hypocrite posting about this decadent dish, having just yesterday preached about how to have a healthier Thanksgiving. But I’m a firm believer that everyone needs a guilty pleasure (or several!) to enjoy every once in a while. Well, foodies..My latest guilty pleasure is spicy tuna with crispy rice. I’ve known about this dish for a while but it didn’t become an obsession until a recent trip to LA where it was literally on the menu of every Japanese restaurant we went to. My love for it was sealed when I went to Nobu just yesterday here in Dubai and sampled his tasty version.

Aside from the bit of crispy rice -which is downright sinful- the dish is actually not that bad for you. As in, you probably won’t find it in a diet cookbook, but it could be a lot worse as far as “guilty pleasures” go. The combination of crispy rice on the outside, soft rice on the inside, spicy tuna and spicy soy dip is just heavenly, and makes a great amuse-bouche before a meal, or even just a snack. So if you’re curious (you should be!), here’s how to make it:

You will need:

For the spicy tuna:

  • 250 grams (approx 1/2 pound) sushi-grade tuna,
  • 1 tbsp thinly-chopped scallions
  • 1 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tbsp Sriracha (a hot Thai sauce..you can use more or less depending on how spicy you want it to be)
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

For the crispy rice:

  • 2 cups sushi rice (click here to find Alton Brown’s sushi rice recipe)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter (not part of Alton’s recipe – this is for making crispy rice)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

For garnish:

  • 1 tbsp white sesame
  • 1 tbsp black sesame
  • optional sliced jalapeno
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chili-infused olive oil
1. Cook the rice: follow Alton’s recipe above to cook and prepare the sushi rice. Set aside to rest while you prepare the tuna.
2. Prepare the spicy tuna: cut the tuna into small cubes and pulse in a food processor a few times to mince further, but don’t over-pulse because you don’t want a puree. Add the mayo, Sriracha, scallions and sesame oil and mix well. Cover and refrigerate mixture.
3. Make the crispy rice cubes: Spread the rice out on a large piece of plastic wrap, and compress it until you have formed a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Now cover the other side in plastic wrap and flatten with a large heavy surface such as a wooden cutting board. Unwrap the rice and cut into equal cubes. Sprinkle cubes with black and white sesame on both sides.
Next, combine the butter and soy in a large saucepan. Once butter is hot, pan-fry the rice cubes on either side until crispy and golden brown. Stick a bamboo skewer into each cube.
4. Serve:  Mix the soy sauce and chili oil. Serve on a platter with the rice skewers and tuna. To eat, make a “lollipop” by putting tuna onto the rice skewer and top with a very thin slice of jalapeno (make sure to remove the seeds!). Then dip in the sauce and enjoy!
In good health,


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November 2011
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