Grilled Tuna Rolls

August 31, 2009 · 26 comments · Print This Post

in Fish

Tuna RollsIt’s a very special day today on the Erin Cooks blog! This post represents the inaugural web and home debut of my utilization of fish in a meal. You might be wondering how this could be possible since I live in Boston and hail from the state of Maine, both of which are well known for their seafood prowess. Unfortunately, while many of my childhood persnickety feelings surrounding certain high “ick factor” foods have been conquered, one large hang-up has essentially remained intact: my dislike of fishy things.

Early in our relationship CK introduced me to sushi (practically kicking and screaming I might add) and I slowly learned to love various maki rolls, especially anything containing spicy mayo, but in general I stick to the holy trinity of crab, tuna, and salmon. I’ve gingerly given into begrudgingly enjoying crab, especially the Dungeness crab I had in Seattle, and I now happily order tuna in restaurants, but you can’t get me to eat cooked salmon on a bet. Just the smell of it on other patron’s plates makes my stomach turn over. I so wish this wasn’t the case because it’s so incredibly good for you.

Tuna Rolls

Meanwhile, at the very least I can hopefully now sear up an occasional tuna steak for dinner — a very occasional tuna steak I might add since this one was $18.99 / pound at Whole Foods, but braving the smelly fish counter was definitely worth it. These tuna rolls are a great twist on the much more traditional lobster rolls that pop up all over the place in the summer. While most people lose their mind over lobster, it falls into my “please don’t make me eat this” category. I’m sure I’m not alone. So do your guests and family a favor and whip up this incredibly quick alternative sandwich filling. I especially loved the zing that the wasabi and citrus combination gave to the dish, plus it’s so much better for you as it uses bright green avocado as a filler instead of super bad for you mayonnaise. All of these ingredients piled high on a toasted bun and garnished with peppery arugula made me wish I could make this dish every week.

So now that I’ve found my “fish legs” what recipes would you recommend to a person who hates fishy fish? Do you have special tricks or tried and true marinades that take your fish dishes from “briny” to “bring me more please?” I’d love to hear your thoughts!

PS:  Congratulations Nicole! You were “lucky number” 72. You’ll be receiving a Lazy Baker cookie mix of choice in the mail shortly. Thank you to everyone for participating and be sure to stay tuned. There are always more giveaways in the works. In addition, if you haven’t already done so, please consider becoming a fan of Erin Cooks  on Facebook.

Grilled Tuna Rolls
Adapted from the recipe originally published by Ina Garten

Good olive oil
1 pound very fresh tuna steak, 1-inch thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lime, zest grated
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder
1 teaspoon soy sauce
5 dashes hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1 firm, ripe Hass avocado, medium-diced
1/4 red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced scallion, white and green parts
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
9 hot dog rolls, grilled or toasted
1 bunch baby arugula, washed and spun dry

Heat a charcoal grill with hot coals. Brush the grill with oil.

Brush both sides of the tuna with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cook the tuna over the hot coals for about 2 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate. The tuna should be seared on the outside and raw inside. Allow to cool and cut into cubes.

(If you don’t want to heat a grill, you can sear the tuna in a dry saute pan over high heat. Heat the pan for 2 minutes, add the tuna steaks and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side until seared on the outside and still raw inside).

For the dressing, whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the lime zest, lime juice, wasabi powder, soy sauce, hot sauce, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Toss the avocado in the dressing and then add the tuna, red onion, scallion, and sesame seeds. Line the rolls with arugula leaves, fill with the tuna mixture, and serve.

Tuna Rolls

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Liz Anderson August 31, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Oh Erin –
I’m so there with you! My dislike (distrust?) of fish probably stems from the year my folks decided to serve fresh caught lake trout — for breakfast! Now, I’m the first to admit I’ll do just about anything for an Oreo cookie, but I’m pretty sure I walked away from the table, and my cookie, that day. Another instance hails from Dad passing out and nearly dying after a bad tuna sandwich from a roadside diner. I’ll happily eat tuna from my own kitchen, but that’s all the fish I’ll eat. I like shrimp and crab, but they’re too pricey and time consuming. PB&J anyone?


2 Bob August 31, 2009 at 3:16 pm

I’m not a fish fan either and I was born and raised in Boston. Although I’ve always like canned tuna, when made into salad. This I would definitely try, I bet it’s like tuna salad on steroids. Heh. Love the avocado instead of mayo, I made a guacamole chicken salad a while ago that was awesome.


3 Alisa August 31, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Oh yum! My husband actually prefers sushi and seared tuna since he doesn’t like fishy-fish either. He is okay with mild white fishes like halibut, so you might want to give that a shot in terms of cooked fish.


4 Ally August 31, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Um, Yum! This sounds so delicious. I love most kinds of fish (although, as of late, I could care less about lobster — too much work), and this sounds like a really great alternative to icky tuna salad w/mayo & relish. I think that tuna gets a bad rap from its canned counterpart, but fresh tuna steaks are out of this world! Thanks for sharing this — I can’t wait to try it!


5 snooky doodle August 31, 2009 at 4:07 pm

I m not a great fan of raw fish although I have to say that served like this they look delicious 🙂


6 snooky doodle August 31, 2009 at 4:08 pm
7 Hänni August 31, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Welcome to the world of fish. My favorite recipes (from another girl who doesn’t like “fishy”) Frantic Home Cook’s Seafood Avocado Salad–I make chalupas with a corn tortilla, black beans, cabbage, and the seafood salad layered on top. Also, I *really* love these fish sticks from Elana’s Pantry. I do not fry mine, I prefer to bake them at 450 for 10-15 minutesish. At the same time the fish is baking, I toss some yucca fries into bake as well. Cook some frozen peas on the stove top and you’ve got a tasty fish dinner in no time!


8 kristina August 31, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Now I must admit lobster roll is my all-time favorite food (and I miss it terribly here in England). But these sound like a lovely alternative, as I quite like tuna and wasabi, too! K x


9 kristina August 31, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Must get out those Ina Garten books! K x


10 Lauren August 31, 2009 at 6:48 pm

I’ve had Ina’s recipe bookmarked for a while now, but yours looks even better! I will definitely be trying these tuna rolls :).


11 Kerstin August 31, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Yay for seafood! I’m not a mayo fan, so I like substituting avocado too! Looks delicious.


12 Valérie September 1, 2009 at 10:39 am

I would eat that sandwich in a heartbeat!

It’s interesting that you used fresh tuna, because I find it to be one of the fishiest-smelling ones out there, before it’s cooked (unless it’s sushi-quality). But it’s also one of the most delicious, so kudos to you!

If you don’t like salmon, you might want to try tilapia. It’s quite neutral, and firm-fleshed, as well as very versatile. It’s divine in a fish soup!


13 Lindsay September 1, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Hi Erin Tilapia is a fabulous choice and really not fishy at all. I’m actually quite fond of swordfish too, but that of course has to be an occasional thing. If you like raw salmon you should try the smoked kind that comes in the refrigerator section. I could eat that all day long.


14 Tabby Kelliher September 1, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Hi Erin,

I am also a fellow New Englander who despises all things that come from the sea. I had to eat seafood as a kid and until this day I get a gag reflex when I look or smell seafood. I hope people who love seafood enjoy your recipe 🙂


15 Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy September 1, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Interesting you find salmon “fishy” – if it’s fresh it should be delicious and fresh tasting! Side note: have you tried the canned version to see if you feel that’s fishy, too?

My stepfather is a fisherman so I grew up on a ton of salmon and halibut. Halibut is a very forgiving fish (but don’t overcook it) and we often had it with cheese and salsa in the oven – try a mango salsa or something with lots of chunks of tomato. You can do salmon in a teriyaki sauce, too. I’ll look for some more recipes.


16 Lindsey September 2, 2009 at 9:04 am

There is no seafood to be found on my blog either, as the only things I will eat (much to my husband’s dismay) is New England Clam Chowder and tuna from a can. All other seafood I really can’t stand, even though he makes me taste every single dish he gets when we go out.

One recipe he swears by (and it couldn’t be easier) is to grill Swordfish and constantly put on italian dressing. I don’t think he marinates it at all, just keeps putting it on as it is grilling.


17 Shannon September 2, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Have you tried arctic char? I hear it’s like salmon, but less fishy. Haven’t tried it myself, as I love salmon. I’m not so much a fan of tuna… though i’m trying! Maybe i’ll have to give it a shot now 😉


18 Katie September 2, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Those look absolutely delicious! I love tuna, but I’m with you on the salmon – not a big fan. I find that tuna can be used in so many different ways and its taste can also be masked quite well for those of us who aren’t big on fish.


19 jen September 3, 2009 at 1:36 am

Fabulous…I watched Ina prepare this on tv and I recreated it at home. I love love lovvvvve seared rare ahi and its combination with the wasabi in this recipe! The arugula is perfect in the sandwich too. Great pics!!! Yours look so much yummier than mine came out 🙂


20 Hillary September 3, 2009 at 6:07 pm

This looks like a great cookout recipe, almost resembles a hot dog but much healthier! How clever!


21 RobynT September 4, 2009 at 4:39 pm

I’m Asian American, from Hawai’i and I was not big on seafood as a kid either. Like you, I’m still picky–I mostly stick to tuna and salmon, although I do like cooked salmon.

My mom has started cooking swai (Vietnamese catfish I think). I wrote about how she prepared it (in the microwave) here:

It is sooo good. Smells great too.


22 [email protected] on Art September 6, 2009 at 3:29 am

I am not the biggest fan of tuna but that topping has my mouth watering. Lime – wasabi – avocado…oh my!!


23 EB September 8, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Hey congratulations!!! Welcome to the fish lovin’ land. Try a grilled hamachi steak. Not fishy. Just rich, hearty and meaty.


24 Sues September 12, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Those look amazing!! When I was a kid I wouldn’t go anywhere near fish. Then one day I realized I’m from New England and everyone LOVES fish. What is with me that I don’t like it?? So, I just started eating it… and soon enough I started liking it. I definitely think it’s an acquired taste and once you have enough of it, you learn to like it. Now, I LOVE it. Salmon used to be the worst, but now it’s one of my favorites.

Definitely try Arctic Char. It’s quite delicious and not fishy at all!


25 Marie September 14, 2009 at 5:01 pm

I love tuna and that’s going right in my recipe file.
I don’t like to cook with fish either (seafood excepted) so I can’t help you! 🙂


26 Fatima February 19, 2010 at 5:51 am

Hi Erin

I also don’t really like very “fishy” fish and I certainly don’t like salmon (raw or cooked) because of that! I do like tuna though and some other types of fish which I like are kingklip, sole and dorado (I’m not sure if you get that everywhere – I’m from South Africa). Hake is also not particularly fishy.


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