Saturday, 22 February 2014

How not to cook tuna steaks and other cooking disasters

Yes, you read that right: how NOT to cook tuna steaks.
As a food blogger, I do have my share of cooking mistakes, failures, disappointments and total disasters, and today I am going to tell you about one of my latest flops.
If you read my blog regularly, you might know that I have been given a set of sous vide cooking gadgets on loan for a month for testing and reviewing. I have been enjoying playing with my new toys, and had a few very successful dinners to report.
The other day I was planning to prepare some tuna steaks. There is a recipe for a cured cod in Sous Vide The art of precision cooking book, as well as a tempting confit of tuna belly, both of which suggest dry curing the fish for a few hours. I bought a couple of pricey tuna steaks for my experimental cooking, and decided to dry cure them. I planned to do a meticulous step-by-step, showing how I make it (yeah, yeah, life is a long lesson in humility indeed).
Once I made the dry cure (50g sea salt, 50g demerara sugar, 6 cloves, orange zest), I put it all over the tuna steaks, wrapped them in cling film and put the weight on top. So far, so good. After all, I often make my own cured salmon and herring, and they always turn out lovely. It couldn't go wrong, could it? It was supposed to be cured for 3 hours. Then rummaging through the fridge, I realised I had some leftovers from the day before, which needed to be eaten. So, what do I do? why don't I cook the tuna steaks the next day instead?! I should have taken the tuna and rinsed the cure off with the cold water but I didn't. That was my big mistake. The next evening, when I unwrapped the cling film and rinsed the fish, it looked suspiciously hard and flattened.



Well, I am still going to cook it, it should be fine. Right? wrong! Sealed tuna steaks with the orange zest and thyme were put in the bath.



After the steaks were cooked in the bath for 50 minutes at 52C, I opened the pouch.
I also cooked some mashed potatoes as well as pied mutton mushrooms in single cream, dreaming of a kind of a fishy tuna Stroganoff steak.
Let's try the tuna! Drat, it was as hard as old boots and tasted probably the same, very salty and quite horrible. What a waste of the tuna steaks! Thankfully, my husband is in Italy these days and escaped a "treat".



Today I thought I'd try to rescue the second steak by soaking it in strong tea. Did it work? No, it didn't, it still tasted horribly salty.
That's one lesson learnt. What works well for salmon (i.e. curing for days), doesn't work for tuna.


To cheer up myself, I asked my blogging friends if they dared to share their culinary disasters, and they kindly obliged. Their stories definitely made me smile. To quote Jane from Onions and Paper, it is "very comforting to know things go wrong for other people too!".

Jane from Onions and Paper kindly shared her story about gnasty gnocchi, read all about them in her post A hit and miss. Jane confessed to another culinary "triumph": I once made a pineapple upside down cake (so long ago it was still fashionable and not retro) where I sieved the flour in a sieve that hadn't been washed well enough after straining a very garlicky tomato sauce. It turned out to be pineapple and garlic upside down cake. I wish I had photos of the faces of my guests that night!"
And one more story offered by adventurous cook Jane - the sauce for Beancurd Satay didn't look too appetizing (but check out her own recipe for satay sauce, I soo want to try it!).

Cheryl from Madhouse Family Reviews also blogs about her cooking disasters (though to be fair, they are more of imperfections rather than outright disasters), see her blog posts Stork easy to mix baking liquid review and Renshaw's Limited Edition Great British Icing pack review.

Jo from Given to Distracting Others tells her geyser of hot fat story in One Pot Roast Chicken AKA Saddened Chicken (I'm sure the chicken tasted great, even if the kitchen needed some help from Kim and Aggie).

Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog told of her baking accident in Lemon and Apple Curd Cake Disaster (I would have loved some broken bits of that cake).

Have you got any kitchen disaster stories you'd dare to share?



14 comments:

  1. I would LOVE to have a play with a sous vide machine, but I'll make a note not to try your tuna recipe!

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    1. Lol, I wouldn't offer this treat to anyone

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  2. Hehe that tuna is one to avoid. I have learnt from lots of my mistakes but the nice thing about cooking is once in a while you get a complete success with experimenting, and a good few come from fab kitchen appliances like the Sous Vide, my slow cooker bread springs to mind.

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    1. Yes, it is all part of learning, mistakes and successes. :)

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  3. I love this blog post ! It's given me lots of giggles this afternoon ! :) xxx

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    1. Glad it made you giggle, that was my intention. :)

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  4. oh what a shame and a waste of good food... i have so many recipe fails you wouldn't believe it... but we live and learn!

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    1. No, not you, Dom! Would you care to share?

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  5. I have plenty of cooking disasters - and sadly even when things TASTE good they sometimes look very strange in my household! My worse failure was a few years ago when I marinaded and then roasted some venison. I suspect it wasn't a roasting cut and should have been braised in wine, it was tough as old boots and cost a fortune. Mind you, nothing as bad as my mum, who got a gill and a quart muddled up - her treacle pud made with half a quart of treacle (e.g. a pint) was, apparently, a gooey mess. But my dad still ate it! Such is love

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    1. Aww bless your Dad and his loving heart! When things taste all right but don't look as they should, it's quite all right. I should have mentioned the cake I baked not so long ago, when I sprayed the bundt cake ring with the gold edible paint instead of the cake release. Needless to say, it was almost impossible to get it out of the tin once baked.

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  6. I hate cooking disasters, but have them all too frequently. It's OK if they can be salvaged, but I hate wasting food. That is such a shame about your tuna steaks.

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    1. I think I was over-confident, and paid the price. ;)

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  7. Oh no Galina what a shame when things were going so well. Whoopsie!

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