Love makes you see a place differently, just as you hold differently an object that belongs to someone you love. If you know one landscape well, you will look at all other landscapes differently. And if you learn to love one place, sometimes you can also learn to love another.
— Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces
South Texas? Not this girl! “Never say never,” as the saying goes… 🙂 Summer 2015 found us packing up our belongings in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and homeless for the next 6 weeks. While visiting McAllen, Texas in July (for the very first time) to house hunt, I tasted Braised Pork Belly with a Dragon Fruit Relish and Berry Reduction at House Wine & Bistro. It was love at first bite! I might also say love at first sight… The spectacular color, taste, and texture of the dragon fruit (pitaya in Spanish) made quite an impression, and provided the inspiration for Seared Tuna with Dragon Fruit Salsa.
McAllen, Texas is a vibrant border city in the Rio Grande Valley of far-south Texas. Agriculture thrives in this sub-tropical climate with its fertile river valley soil and ample sun and moisture. The moisture (humidity) is a topic for another day for this desert rat from New Mexico. 😉 We have discovered the pleasure of browsing local farmers’ markets at the McAllen Library and downtown McAllen. Dragon fruit (or dragonfruit) has been available on a regular basis. I did manage to find it in Las Cruces in mid-August. This is definitely a specialty food item, and it is not cheap. I have paid as little as $3.00 and as much as $8.00 per fruit. However, one dragonfruit will make a generous bowl of salsa or relish. You will find red ones with the more common white flesh, red ones with red flesh, and yellow ones with white flesh. I have yet to find a way to know – prior to cutting into one – what color fruit I have selected. That’s part of the fun of using this lovely fruit…
This salsa recipe is simple, and can be modified based on seasonal ingredients and what you have in your well-stocked pantry. Dragon fruit reminds me a little of kiwi in taste and texture. Feel free to substitute kiwi, mango, even nectarines or peaches. You want to use barely ripe, firm fruit that will hold its shape in the salsa. I have tried different acids with the dragon fruit – lime juice, sherry vinegar, and white vermouth vinegar. We liked the white vermouth vinegar best, but all worked well! We love raw, fresh tuna, so tuna steaks are perfect with the salsa, but it would be lovely on grilled salmon, mahi mahi, or your favorite fish as well. I do try to encourage my readers to break free from recipes. 😉
A farmer's market and fresh local ingredients shine in this internationally-inspired tuna with dragon fruit salsa. Serve with simple curried and stir-fried farm-fresh veggies like okra and eggplant, and coconut rice...
15 minPrep Time
4 minCook Time
19 minTotal Time
- 1 small dragonfruit, diced*
- 1 shallot, minced*
- 1 serrano, fresno, or jalapeno chile, minced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint, cilantro, or basil
- 1 tbsp. White Vermouth Vinegar
- sea salt and ground pepper to taste
- 4 fresh ahi tuna steaks*
- a drizzle of olive or coconut oil
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- *See Notes
Breaking down a dragonfruit looks intimidating, but is really quite simple. Slice in half lengthwise, and use a spoon around the outer edge to scoop out the flesh. See notes for a video on this process. You will want a fairly small dice, 1/4" or so. Add to a small prep bowl.
Add minced chile, shallot or onion, and vinegar. Stir to combine.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat your grill or griddle pan to very high heat.
Rub tuna steaks with coconut oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Sear tuna on both sides. We like "rare," which is typically 1-2 minutes per side.
Slice tuna steaks. Serve with a generous scoop of salsa.
For more information on preparing dragon fruit, see How to Eat Dragon Fruit .
Substitute red onion or scallions for the shallot if desired.
Use a good quality vinegar. It doesn't have to be white vermouth vinegar. Sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar, champagne or blush vinegar will work fine. Lime juice is also nice. Avoid strong flavored or colored vinegar like balsamic and apple cider vinegar.
I've used fresh mint, basil, and cilantro, and we've liked them all. Make your choice based on local availability and preference.
You don't have to use tuna! Feel free to substitute your favorite fresh fish, and cook to desired doneness. We just prefer raw!
My favorite side dishes with this recipe are coconut rice and curried vegetables – especially fresh okra, eggplant, and tomatoes. The entire meal will come together in about a half hour, and its fresh, healthy, colorful ingredients are sure to please! Try this recipe with a dry, fruity white wine like sauvignon blanc or an unoaked viognier. Craft beer lovers would probably enjoy it with a saison or a hefeweizen with a slice of orange. And since I’m desperately working on my Spanish, buen provecho!