A long time ago, I used to serve Pacific swordfish steaks with this same papaya panache. I was under the impression that, unlike Atlantic swordfish, Pacific swordfish stocks were in good shape. I was wrong. Unfortunately, the fish have been widely overharvested, and I no longer feel comfortable cooking, serving, or ordering swordfish, at least until the fish has had some time to make a comeback. Fortunately, the preparation goes well with other game fish, like troll-caught ahi tuna, whose stocks are not considered depleted. Better still are the small steaks cut from troll-caught albacore off the coast of Washington. Smaller and shorter-lived albacore are far less likely to contain lead than larger species of tuna.
- 1 tablespoon dried green peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon boiling water
- 1 large, ripe papaya
- 1 tablespoon grated lime zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, or 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 ahi tuna steaks, about 8 ounces each, or 8 albacore steaks, about 4 ounces each
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, or 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1. Make the panache. In a small mixing bowl, cover the green peppercorns with the boiling water and allow them to soften.
2. Cut the papaya in half lengthwise, scoop out and discard the seeds, then peel the halves and cut them across into strips about 1/8 inch thick.
3. Stir the lime zest, lime juice, sugar, and salt into the softened green peppercorns and their soaking liquid, then add the sliced papaya and sliced red onion and toss to coat.
4. In a backyard barbecue, build a fire with wood or charcoal, and burn until the flames settle into white-hot coals, or preheat a gas grill.
5. Sprinkle the tuna steaks with salt and pepper. Put the olive oil on a plate and, just before grilling, dip the seasoned steaks in the oil to lightly coat each side. Grill the fish, turning it once, as soon as it is cooked about ¼ inch inward, about 2 minutes on each side. Serve the panache at room temperature over the hot grilled fish.