Marinated Tuna Steaks with Ancho Chile Red Wine Sauce and Spinach-Tomatillo Rice Cake

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Inactive: 1 hr 20 min
  • Cook: 1 hr 10 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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2 ancho chilies, soaked, seeded and pureed

4 cloves chopped garlic

2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted

2 teaspoons whole allspice, toasted

2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 sprigs Mexican oregano

4 tuna steaks, 6 ounces each

Salt and pepper

Spinach-Tomatillo Rice Cake, recipe follows

Ancho Chile Red Wine Sauce, recipe follows

Rice Cakes:

6 to 8 cups water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

2 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter for sauteing

1 pound spinach, blanched, squeezed dry and finely chopped

Tomatillo Sauce, recipe follows

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup flour

Tomatillo Sauce:

6 tomatillos, husked and scrubbed

6 cloves garlic

1 onion, quartered

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoons chipotle pepper puree

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons honey

Red Wine-Ancho Chile Sauce:

2 ancho chilies, soaked until soft, seeded and pureed

3 cups dry red wine

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup olive oil


  1. Whisk together ancho puree, garlic, fennel, allspice, orange juice, honey, olive oil, and oregano in a medium-baking dish. Add the tuna and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, covered. 
  2. Heat grill pan over high heat. Remove tuna from marinade and season with salt and pepper to taste on both sides. Sear on 1 side until golden brown, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Turn over and cook for 1 minute for medium-rare doneness. 
  3. Place two Spinach-Tomatillo Rice Cakes onto a plate. Prop a tuna steak on top of the cakes at an angle. Drizzle the plate with the Ancho Chile Red Wine Sauce.

Rice Cakes:

  1. Place water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Heat olive oil in a medium high-sided saute pan over medium heat. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add 2 cups of the hot water and stir until evaporated. Repeat with the remaining water until the rice is al dente. Stir in the cheese and butter until combined. Stir in the spinach and tomatillo sauce, season with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture evenly out onto a sheet pan, cover and place in the refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour. 
  2. Remove the risotto from the refrigerator and cut out 8 (2-inch) circles. Place the flour onto a plate and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Dredge the risotto circles on both sides in the flour and tap of the excess. Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Saute the cakes until golden brown on both sides. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels.

Tomatillo Sauce:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place tomatillos, garlic, and onions on a medium baking sheet, toss with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until all vegetables are soft, about 20 to 25 minutes. 
  2. Place roasted vegetables and remaining ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

Red Wine-Ancho Chile Sauce:

  1. Combine ancho puree and wine in a small saucepan and cook until reduced by half. Add the mixture to a blender with the vinegar and honey, blend until smooth and season with salt and pepper, to taste. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and blend until emulsified. Re-season, if needed.