SINGAPORE - I used to order this maguro don or bowl of marinated tuna with rice at Japanese restaurants, but I no longer do so now.
I have been making my own since I discovered how easy and painless it is to turn this dish out.
Just marinate raw tuna - the lean and hence, less expensive cut - in seasoned soya sauce and place it over rice.
No cooking is required at all - except for the rice - and yet the dish contains plenty of nutrition.
This is especially if, like me, you opt for brown rice and slices of avocado, and scatter seaweed and sesame seeds all over them.
The akami cut of the tuna, which is characterised by its red colour, is the leaner meat from the sides of the fish.
In fact, the akami cut is often served in Japanese restaurants and referred to as maguro, or tuna.
In the old days, it was very much more preferred over toro, the fatty part of the tuna from the stomach.
Indeed, it is extremely flavourful and has a good bite.
Marinated in seasoned soya sauce for a while, it ends up with a flavour that is so memorable that I would hanker for it from time to time.
The fish becomes sweet, nicely finished by the full taste of the flesh itself. And the fish is good for you too.
Like most fish, tuna is loaded with heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acid, which also helps brain function and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. And there is no added fat from the akami cut.
After marinating the fish slices, I place them in a bowl of brown rice, simply because that is the rice found in my home.
And the reason for that: Brown rice is the way to go, for the goodness of the whole grain is preserved.
The milling and polishing that turns brown rice into white rice destroys most of the vitamins B3, B1 and B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60 per cent of the iron, and all of the dietary fibre and essential fatty acid.
Eating brown rice also helps to stabilise blood sugar levels, which is especially beneficial to those suffering from diabetes.
I also add slices of ripe avocado to the bowl to give variation to the taste.
I love the rich creamy flavour of avocado and, of course, it also delivers its own set of goodness to the bowl, specifically protein and fibre, as well as boosting high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or good cholesterol, in the body.
Finally, I sprinkle lots of shredded nori - buy this Japanese seaweed ready shredded or snip what you need into the bowl - and toasted sesame seeds over the marinated fish.
Sesame seeds bring, among other things, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium to the bowl, while nori is rich in protein, fibre (the amount is as much as that in raw spinach) and also omega-3 fatty acid.
Notwithstanding all this nutritional goodness, the main reason I make this fish and rice bowl is that it tastes really good.
I do not need to eat expensive fatty tuna now and I do not need to go out to a pricey sushi restaurant to enjoy my raw fish.
And that is because all it takes is a few minutes of soaking tuna in a simple soya sauce marinade.
By the way, use this same marinade for beef and your steak will also achieve new heights.
Sylvia Tan is a freelance writer.
Marinated maguro (tuna) on rice
2 tbs light soya sauce
2 tbs sake (Japanese rice wine)
1 tbs mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
150g sashimi quality maguro (lean tuna), sliced
1 stalk spring onion
1 tbs shredded nori (seaweed), or to taste
1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
Roasted white sesame seeds
2 bowls of cooked, hot brown rice
Wasabi (Japanese horseradish) paste, to taste
1. Make the marinade by mixing the light soya sauce, sake and mirin in a small bowl.
2. Place the maguro slices into the marinade and leave them immersed for about 15 minutes.
3. In the meantime, chop the spring onion and, if needed, cut the nori into strips. Set them aside.
4. Peel and slice the avocado. Set it aside.
5. Remove the maguro slices from the marinade and drain off the excess liquid by placing the fish on a kitchen towel.
6. Scatter the shredded seaweed over the rice in each bowl. Then place the maguro and avocado on top of the rice. Scatter chopped spring onion and sesame seeds over everything.
7. Add a little wasabi paste to taste.
8. Serve the maguro with rice immediately. Offer the leftover marinade on the side as extra seasoning, if desired.
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