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Recipe: Seared Tuna Steak With Bouillon Risotto And Pan Sauce

September 10, 2011

This recipe began with Michael Symon and the court bullion he made for the “halibut” episode of Cook Like An Iron Chef. A court bouillon is a stock that is meant for poaching something (in his case, fish), and differs from a broth or stock typically in both cooking time (a broth cooks for much longer) and in ingredients. Where stock most often strives to capture the essence of the primary ingredient (a shrimp stock tastes like shrimp, etc), the court bouillon has ingredients that are meant to impart flavor to whatever is being poached.

Still, with ingredients like coriander, shrimp shells, and beer, the bouillon that Symon made looked so fantastic that I was tempted to use it as one would use a stock. In other words, could I make, say, seafood risotto with a bouillon instead of fish stock, using a mere poaching liquid as the star ingredient? It turns out that the answer is: kind of.

The result was more complex than I anticipated, with a variety of lemon, fish, and spice flavors occurring in the risotto, rather than the concentrated shrimp taste I had anticipated. While the risotto was by no means a strict “seafood” risotto, the experiment was delicious. In some ways, the array of ingredients that went into the bouillon made the risotto more mysterious than a straight up  seafood risotto would have been. A nice change of pace, I’d say, perhaps something to throw guests for a loop. The pan sauce kept the risotto and tuna swimming in good juice, and because so many of the flavors in the sauce came from the fish and the bouillon themselves, it really unified the plate. The recipe I used involves a lot of steps because three pans are going at once. But really, all of the steps are pretty much dead simple.

Whether or not chefs typically use bouillon as they would a stock (I also used it in my pan sauce), I’m not sure. It could be rather commonplace, or it could be a faux-pas. Either way, I was surprised enough by the result to try this again for sure. It was buttery and slightly sweet, with faint fish and citrus in the background. Another thing to keep in mind is that I made the bouillon weeks before I used it in any capacity; it freezes quite well.

Next time: I would zest an orange into the risotto with the parsley, and I would juice that orange into the pan sauce with the bouillon. Not enough to overpower either with citrus, but just for some brightness. This recipe can obviously be altered in any number of ways. Any seafood risotto would work (meaning a risotto made with fish stock, shrimp stock, etc…), and pretty much any cut of fish will work on top. Or you could experiment by using the ingredients in the bouillon, maybe using beer to deglaze pans instead of wine…have fun with it. And don’t forget: leftovers make an amazing breakfast when crisped in a skillet and topped with a fried egg.


2 Tuna steaks

1 cup arborio rice

3 medium to large shallots, diced

1 bottle white wine (that you like)

Good handful fresh Italian parsley (chiffonade)

At least 1 quart Michael Symon’s court bouillon 

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 generous tablespoons butter

salt and pepper to taste


Heat court bouillon in a pot until boiling, then reduce heat to keep warm.

When bouillon is near ready, turn a pan to medium-high heat and add 2 tbs olive oil.

When the oil is shimmering, add two of the shallots, season with salt and pepper, then cook until soft.

Add rice, coating evenly in oil and cook until opaque.

Deglaze with white wine, at least enough to cover rice. Stir and cook until fully absorbed.

Add one third of the bouillon and cook, stirring occasionally, until absorbed.

Add the next third of the bouillon. As soon as it goes in, heat a third pan to medium-high and add 1 tbs olive oil.

When oil is shimmering, add tuna steaks (seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides) and cook until first side is golden brown.

When the tuna naturally releases from the pan, flip and cook the other side, being careful not to overcook. The tuna is done almost immediately after both sides have achieved a golden sear–the middle need not cook so long.

When tuna is done, remove from pan and keep warm. Meanwhile, if/when the bouillon has been fully absorbed, add final third of the broth, being sure to reserve at least a big ladle’s worth.

In the tuna pan, add remaining shallot to the tuna bits (fond!) and any remaining olive oil (a little is ok here, but if there is a lot of oil you should drain the don’t want oily sauce). Season to taste.

When shallot has softened, deglaze with a splash of white wine.

When wine has reduced, add reserved bouillon and reduce until a sauce-like consistency is achieved.

Meanwhile, the rice should have absorbed most of the liquid, and should be cooked al-dente.

At this point kill the heat on the risotto, add water if more liquid is needed (remembering that risotto should resemble risotto and not rice), adjust seasoning if necessary. Stir in fresh parsley and finally, stir in a tablespoon of butter vigorously, shaking the pan as you go.

Plate the risotto with the tuna on top.

Finish the pan sauce with a tablespoon of cold butter, off the heat, adjusting seasoning if necessary.

Pour sauce over top, pour remaining wine into glasses, and enjoy.

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