Sesame-crusted seared albacore with maitake, asparagus and soba

I made this during a warm spell we had a week ago. It was the kind of weather we ought to be having right now, but Mother Nature is being a bit of a premenstrual dysphoric bitch right now, dumping buckets of rain and unseasonally cool weather our way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m from Portland, and am a dyed-in-the-wool Great Northwest kind of girl. But when I see tender tomato sprouts getting mowed down by gastropods and can’t throw my windows open in the middle of May, I get a little bitter.

Nonetheless, New Seasons had gorgeous albacore loins, and the usual supply of feathery maitake mushroom clusters, and the asparagus was looking just as plump and green as all get out. I’m such a slave to this succubine vernality. I had some soba and other Japanese things at home already, so dinner was an easy idea away.

I rubbed the tuna loin in sesame oil and then rolled it in black sesame seeds. I seared it lightly on all sides while I got some dressing going: a good, fat tablespoon of grated ginger, a little finely sliced scallion; a drib each of mirin, rice vinegar and sesame oil; and a nice splash of tamari and shoyu (you can use Chinese soy sauce but for seasoning rare tuna I think it’s worth going a little nicer with a good Japanese brand like Takumi, and save the dark stuff for porky noodles).

Pull the loin from the hot pan and break up and stir-fry the maitake until they’re slightly softened, then toss in the asparagus (chopped into bite-sized pieces). Sprinkle in some sesame seeds and then dump in some cooked soba. Stir around a bit then add the dressing, then plate. Slice the albacore into thick medallions, top the noodles and sprinkle on some furikake (I just like a little seaweed, sesame and chile on everything).

Serve with a cold Morimoto Soba Ale (seriously, I can’t drink enough of this these days) and dreams of sunnier climes.