Downtown Denver has so many great places to eat and there is a deli that has enamored my taste buds for several years. I don’t get to Masterpiece Deli that often – maybe once or twice a year – and that’s why it’s such a treat when I do. This is my riff on a sandwich that they have perfected, the Seared Ahi Tuna sandwich. They make it with fresh, seared Ahi tuna slices that are piled on an English muffin with wasabi mayonnaise and Asian slaw made with green cabbage. It’s a simple combination that delivers with tons of flavor. The English muffin adds a slightly sweet and soft bite, the coleslaw gives some crunchy texture and the wasabi mayonnaise ties it all together with a spicy zing.
Here’s how I changed things up for my version: I love red cabbage and always use it for my coleslaw – it has great flavor, fun eye appeal and lots of nutrients. The coleslaw also has carrots, rice wine vinegar, cilantro, mayonnaise and scallions. To recreate the wasabi mayonnaise, I used some of David’s homemade horseradish because we always have it on hand and it has the same flavor zing without any dyes – stir a dollop into some store-bought mayonnaise and you have an instant spicy spread.
When buying tuna, get the freshest available, from a reputable source and buy it the day of your meal; I bought mine from my local grocery store. You only need 8 ounces (half a pound) of meat for two sandwiches, and the trick is a smoking-hot pan to sear just the outside, with a rare inside. After the tuna cools use a serrated knife to make slicing easier. Don’t worry if some of the meat falls apart, it will get covered up with the other ingredients on the sandwich.
If you are strolling through the Denver Lower Highlands (LoHi) neighborhood and near the Highland pedestrian bridge, be sure to stop by Masterpiece Deli to enjoy their delicious, creative spin on sandwiches. And then stop by another one of my favorites, Little Man Ice Cream for a scoop (or two) or the best hand-made ice cream.
Eat well and share the love!
Seared Ahi Tuna Sandwich (print recipe)
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Prep Time: 15 minutes/Cooking time: 13 minutes/Total cooking time: about 30 minutes
¼ cup mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/16 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 scallion, thinly sliced (both green and white part)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2¼ cups thinly sliced red cabbage
1 carrot, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
8 oz. filet of Ahi tuna
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 English muffins, split and toasted
Coleslaw: Add the mayonnaise, salt, pepper, rice wine vinegar, scallion and cilantro to a medium bowl and mix well. Add the cabbage and carrots and mix together with a fork until the mayonnaise mixture and cabbage are well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble sandwiches. The coleslaw tastes best if allowed to sit for at least 15 minutes for the flavors to develop and cabbage to soften.
Horseradish Mayonnaise: Add the mayonnaise and horseradish to a small bowl and mix well.
Seared Tuna: Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to a medium skillet and heat to medium high heat. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on the tuna steak and season with salt and pepper. Turn steak over and repeat with the olive oil and seasoning.
When the oil in the pan starts to develop slight ripples – about 3 or 4 minutes – it is hot enough: the pan should be very hot to get a good sear on the tuna. Place the tuna steak in the pan and don’t move it. Let cook for about 2 minutes and turn steak over. Let cook for another 1½ to 2 minutes for rare doneness and remove from heat. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool completely, about 5 minutes. When cool, slice the meat into thin slices using a serrated knife.
Assemble Sandwiches: Toast the English muffins until they are just golden brown and add some mayonnaise to both sides. Add half the tuna slices to the bottom piece of each English muffin and top with about ½ cup of coleslaw. Place the top on sandwich and serve with your favorite potato chips or fruit.
- Cover and refrigerate and leftover coleslaw for up to 2 days