Sunday, February 17, 2008

WTSIM - Warm Tuna Salad with passionfruit, dragon fruit, almond and mustard

Recently, I learned about the existence of the dragon fruit (also known as the pitaya) from Pixie's post on them. I loved the beauty of this fruit, and decided that if I found one in my travels, I would try it.

Lo and behold, this week, my local Safeway had dragon fruit for sale at the not so bargain price of $16.70 a kilo. Undeterred, I bought my very own dragon fruit to try for just under $7. Unfortunately, this means that experiencing the lovely dragon fruit will be a once in a blue moon thing for me, but I am glad that I took the plunge.

The beautiful dragon fruit comes from a variety of cactus, and if you would like to see it in all its glory, do visit Pixie's post at the link above. Ordinarily, the skin of the dragon fruit is a vibrant magenta. Mine was a little the worse for wear after being left to its own devices in the fruit bowl for 4 days:

Even though the skin of my dragon fruit had started to brown (only later did I find out that you are supposed to chill them!), it thankfully didn't affect the edible flesh inside:

My dragon fruit was of the more common white variety, but there are other varieties with different coloured flesh (including a lovely dark pink to match the skin). The tiny black seeds that dot the flesh are edible.

Given that I won't be buying dragon fruit on a regular basis, I decided to try it au naturel as well as in a dish.

On its own, I agree with the general consensus among food bloggers that the dragon fruit tastes somewhat similar to kiwi fruit, but without the tart acidity of the latter. Some bloggers found them to be bland, but I disagree with this assessment. The flavour of the dragon fruit is subtle, and also reminded me of the lychee. I think that it would make a delightful palate cleansing sorbet, for which there is a recipe

As I lack an icecream machine and I loathe icy treats full of ice crystals, I needed to look elsewhere for a use for the remaining half of my dragon fruit. I was initially tempted by a
dragon fruit "pizza", being an oversized, cream cheese topped cookie crowned with sliced dragon fruit and other fruits.

However, I felt a bit over sweet treats, and instead I decided to try a
warm salad incorporating dragon fruit from Michael Bloise of Wish restaurant at Miami Beach, Florida. You can find the original recipe here.

I adapted this recipe as a dish for one, using the ingredients that I had on hand and omitting the red onion (which I dislike in salads). My version, pictured at the top of this post, is as follows:

Marinated tuna

185g canned tuna slices in springwater
2 tablespoons tinned passionfruit in syrup
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Dragon fruit salad

Flesh of half a dragon fruit, cubed
Half an Oakland lettuce, broken into leaves
A small handful of flaked almonds

Mustard dressing

1 shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon mustard (I used wholegrain mustard)
2 teaspoons honey
3/4 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil

Mix the passionfruit and soy sauce together in a bowl. Drain the tuna, coat well in the marinade in the bowl, and refrigerate for half an hour.

Prepare the dressing by mixing the ingredients together well in a small bowl, then refrigerate.

Once the tuna has finished marinading, place it on a foil-covered grill tray under the grill for 5-10 minutes to heat through.

While the tuna is grilling, prepare the salad by first scattering the lettuce leaves on a plate, then topping with the dragon fruit cubes and almonds. Remove the dressing from the refrigerator and drizzle over the salad. Once the tuna is heated through, pile it on top of the salad, and serve immediately.

Verdict - I am not a huge salad fan, but I enjoyed this. The flavours of the marinaded tuna were particularly lovely.

I am submitting this salad as my entry for this month's Waiter There's Something In My ... Salad hosted by Andrew at Spittoon Extra. You can view the roundup of fantastic, inventive and healthy salads here.

I served this dish for Sunday lunch, and followed with a dessert of custard and fresh pitted black cherries:

It was a pretty nice weekend lunch, spent educating myself by watching a Landline story on the use of goats in noxious weed control. I found this quite interesting, having recently visited the South Island of New Zealand where broom, one of the weeds which the goats eat, is also a huge problem.

Hope you all had a great weekend!


Anonymous said...

Hello Cakelaw,

I have never cooked savory meals with passion fruit, but this one looks tempting!
I also liked your apple pancakes for "An apple a Day".

Note on Dragon fruit - I think the pink/purple ones are just stunning to look at.

Rosie said...

I haven't as yet tried this fruit out *blush* but have seen it for sale. I like the idea of how you have utilised this fruit into a lovely dish!

Rosie x

Peter M said...

Cake, next time look for them at an Asian'll find dragon fruit cheaper there.

Anonymous said...

Yeah!!!! You have dragon fruit! It's a fantastic and we grow this in our garden as well as a new has a yellow center. Hopefully it'll fruit this year.
You should check out our post on our Dragon fruit. It has all the pictures during it's life cycle. Fun!
We were just going to write about dragon fruit again too!

Cakespy said...

I have never had dragonfruit--but clearly it's time to swallow my pride about the steep price and give it a try. This all sounds so lovely. Especially the custard with cherries. Mmm.

Laurie Constantino said...

I've never heard of this fruit before, so your post was extremely interesting. I loved seeing the inside of the fruit, and your salad looks very very tasty. Thanks for the education!

Cakelaw said...

Thanks Sweet Tooth. I saw photos of the purple ones and think they're great - if I find one, I will be sure to post about it.

Hi Rosie, Don't worry - I had never even heard of dragon fruit until Pixie posted about them.

Thanks for the tip Peter - I'll check it out.

Thanks Todd and Diane, I will check it out - this has certainly been an educational exercise for me, as well as good fun! You are lucky that you grow them yourselves and can enjoy at will.

Thanks Cakespy - the custard and cherries were very good ;)

Hi Laurie, It was an education for me too - I wish I'd done the research before letting the fruit languish in a bowl in the summer heat for a few days.

Pixie said...

Well done for trying something new and what an interesting combination of ingredients. I would love to try the sorbet one day! thanks for the mention too!

Julie said...

I love dragonfruit but it's hard to get out my way plus it is really expensive.

Cakelaw said...

Thanks Pixie. I agree that the sorbet sounds good.

Hi Julie, I was also a little taken aback at the price - I want to contact Pixie's vendor for 99p in the UK!

Andrew said...

would never have thought of using dragonfruit in a salad so many thanks for the idea!

Thanks too for taking the time to engage in Waiter...

Cakelaw said...

Thanks for hosting Andrew - terrific theme.