Island Ahi With Spicy Cacao Sauce

This is all about an event thought up by Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy and Marc of No Recipes (who is hosting this one). Each month a different movie is selected for everyone to watch and be inspired to create a recipe from. This month's movie is Chocolat.

I was going to call my sauce a curry, as I did in an earlier version posted this year, but on second thought, the origins point as well to South America, home of cacao, and the moles of Mexico, where cacao is often an ingredient. A mole is traditionally a very complex assortment of ingredients, time-consuming to prepare. Most Mexican restaurants don't bother, aside from guacamole that is. Although, there are some fairly simple moles in the book of Frida Kahlo's recipes. Perhaps my concoction is an aberration, not Mexican, or Indian or even Eurasian. Though sauce is such a mundane word. Oh well. This recipe, however, has aside from some Indian and Mexican spices - cardamom, chili pepper, avocado leaf and cinnamon; also Asian elements - lemongrass and galangal, which all combined to work with and complement the cacao and ahi.

As in the movie Chocolat, where the confectioner used unusual flavors to surprise and delight her patrons, I was inspired to strive for that result. I not only love chocolate, I am growing the tree to keep us in good supply and love experimenting with its fruit.

I used fresh, locally caught, ahi (tuna) for this and some of the other ingredients are very local as well - from my garden: the cacao nibs, lemongrass, chilies, galangal, macadamia nuts, avocado leaf, lemon, with basil and starfruit to garnish.
Island Ahi With Spicy Cacao Sauce

Ingredients for Sauce
3 tablespoons cacao nibs
2 cardamom pods, opened and seeds removed
1 Hawaiian chili pepper (or jalapeno - how hot do you want it?) & 1/2 dried chili pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon minced raw galangal or ginger
1 tablespoon minced lemongrass (white part)
1 avocado leaf (or bay leaf) toasted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped shallot
2 tablespoons clarified butter
2 tablespoons peanut butter (creamy)
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar & dash of salt
olive oil
2 fillets ahi steak
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup lemon juice
Toasted, chopped macadamia nuts, starfruit, and basil leaves to garnish

Toast the avocado leaf and dried chili, if using, and set aside. Put the cacao, cardamom seeds, chili pepper, galangal, and lemongrass in a grinder and pulse til smooth.

Melt the butter and saute shallots til translucent, add the ground spices, avocado leaf, and cinnamon, then saute 2 minutes. Add the water, peanut butter, sugar and salt, stirring well and simmer on very low heat for 15 minutes. Set aside.

Salt and pepper the ahi steaks. Heat about 2 tablespoons oil in saute pan, add garlic, saute a minute or so, over high heat, remove garlic bits, add and quickly sear the tuna steaks about 2-3 minutes on each side (depending on thickness of steaks), adding more oil if necessary, until golden brown and soft. Remove and keep warm. Add lemon juice to pan and reduce to half, stirring in tuna drippings. Combine lemon reduction with the sauce, pour some on a platter, add the ahi and serve, garnished with chopped, toasted macadamia nuts, garlic nuggets, basil and sliced starfruit, if desired. I served with a small salad and white bismati rice, accompanied by my lovely guava wine. I almost decided to leave out the starfruit, but they were so good with the dish, a nice light fruity contrast.


StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

What a clever and creative use of chocolate! I love what you did with it. Your dish looks delicious. Thanks so much for coming to Dinner and a Movie this month. Can't wait to see what you come up with next time! :)

Gina said...

Nothing like spices growing in your backyard..I bet it was delicious-
So it's your timing belt huh?
Hope nothing else goes wrong-

Claudia said...

Thanks Susan, I really enjoyed the theme and event.

Gina, yes, I love all the spices - keep putting more stuff in. And, sadly, it looks like my car may be in the shop for a bit. Hopefully not toooo many days.