When I was growing up my oldest brother had a beautiful restaurant overlooking the regional airport in my hometown of Muncie, Indiana, and it was one of the places I was first introduced to some classic restaurant fare. One of my favorites was Chicken Oscar, which was a sautéed chicken breast topped with crabmeat, steamed asparagus, and hollandaise sauce. This was an adaptation of Veal Oscar, a dish supposedly developed for a former king of Sweden. I still make a grilled version of Chicken Oscar, and if I want to step it up a notch I make this version, with rare, grilled tuna in place of the chicken.
This is not a difficult recipe, but you do have to time things properly to keep everything hot. I pre-steam the asparagus and then briefly reheat it in a pan with a little butter, and I heat the crabmeat in the same pan. You can do this while the tuna is grilling, and make the blender hollandaise at the same time. Amounts vary according to how many tuna steaks you are grilling, and the sauce will keep for another use. To reheat the sauce, place it in a bowl over a larger bowl of simmering water, and stir until just heated through.
I often stir some fresh tarragon into the sauce right before serving, but it was too early in the season, given our late snow storms–my herbs are just now beginning to emerge. Fresh thyme is also nice if you have it on hand.
This is a great special-occasion dish, and it comes together quickly. If you enjoy seafood, you will like this adaptation.
Grilled Tuna Oscar
- 2-4 tuna steaks
- 4-5 asparagus spears per steak, steamed
- 1/3 cup lump crabmeat per steak
- 2 tablespoons butter
For the sauce:
- 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- juice of one lemon (about a quarter of a cup)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 4 ounces salted butter, heated until hot to the touch
- Lightly oil a grill pan and heat it over medium-high heat. Pat the tuna steaks dry and place them on the pan. Grill each side until it appears cooked most of the way up–you want a thin band of pink still left in the center of the fish. The cooking time will vary according to the thickness of the steaks.
- While the fish is grilling, warm the asparagus and the crabmeat in the two tablespoons of butter. I use a medium skillet and place the crab on one side and the asparagus on the other.
- To make the sauce, place the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and white pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Drizzle in the hot butter with the blender running. If you want to add fresh herbs, like tarragon, stir them in at the end.
- To assemble, place a grilled tuna steak on each serving plate and top with some of the warmed asparagus and crab meat. Drizzle with the sauce and serve.