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Tuna sashimi and beets in ponzu sauce

By Paul Suplee,

It certainly did not feel like 95 degrees on Chincoteague, that is until around 8 o’clock when my body all but gave out. It was then that I also noticed that the rest of my crew went into survival slow-down mode.

The magnificent breeze hid the fact that our bodies were slowly and unwittingly succumbing to the heat. Our feeble minds were plugging along during an outdoor catering job, our bodies replete with jeans, chef jackets and aprons.

Mother Nature had it in her devious mind to deceive and torture us.

Luckily for me and the crew, I had water and electrolytes to keep us hydrated. Had I not done this we would have been in serious trouble, or at least I would have been.

Truth be told, it is rather difficult for me to speak for anyone else, but I digress.

Somewhere around 8 in the evening, when there was still plenty of physical labor to be done, it was as though I had been hit by a bus that was simultaneously rear-ended by a train that was being T-boned by an 18-wheeler.

As I age, and oh how I’m aging, I notice that my eyesight gets blurrier as my exhaustion sets in. Add heat to the pot and my mental sauce gets burnt to a crisp.

Here I was, hauling the trailer behind my hawbuck truck on pitch-black backroads, grateful that I had my specs with me. It would have been unfortunate had I been flying blind on the way home.

Waking up to muscle spasms in my arm Sunday morning, I felt hungover to say the least.

As I haven’t had a drink in months, it was fairly elementary to deduce that natural dehydration was the cause of my newfound ailment. Fortunately, a couple days of consistent water intake should do the trick and then I will be right as rain.

Working my way through this conundrum, I also pondered proper sustenance for my condition, realizing what would work for my body at the moment: raw fish and roasted beets.

The former because it is so tasty and healthy with Omega-3 oils, and the latter because of all the antioxidant goodness contained within. It was time to get to work.

Turning back the cards in my mental Rolodex, I pulled this one out as it is one of my favorite summertime dishes.

There is something about beets that I absolutely love (but, please do not forget that you ate beets the night prior. It may shock you and think that you’re dying: If you know, you know). The antioxidants, folate and all that health gobbledygook make them uber-great for a body in recovery.

Adding some nice, fresh and raw tuna is also a no-brainer as it is high in Omega-3 oils and another great source of recovery for the old battle tank. You could certainly cook the tuna if you are diametrically opposed to raw fish, or you can even sear it, Tataki-style, but for me raw sashimi style is the way to go.

Served with a glorious bottle of mineral water and lime, it was rejuvenating and satiating all at once.

So, go my underlings, get yourself some heat exhaustion, and then repair thyself with this gift. You will not regret it.

Tuna Sashimi, Roasted Beets

serves 4

1# Fresh no. 1 tuna (or 2 if you can’t swing the 1)

2 ea. Large beets, of any color

1/2 c. Ponzu sauce (recipe follows)

1 scallion, cut into chiffonade (little ribbons)

Fried shallots as a garnish

Toasted sesame seeds as garnish

Wakame (seaweed salad) as garnish

  • Gently salt the piece of tuna and let sit in the refrigerator for about two hours. Remove and rinse off, patting dry and keeping chilled until service.
  • Clean the beets and lightly cover with olive oil and salt.
  • Wrap in foil and roast at 375F until fork tender.
  • Cool until able to handle.
  • Please wear gloves, as I don’t want any hate mail about how this stained your hands. I will not entertain such complaints.
  • Peel the beets with a paring knife and your gloved hands and cut in half.
  • Cut into half-moons and set aside until ready to assemble.
  • Cut the tuna into logs that are close in size to the tuna.
  • Slice the tuna to somewhat match the slices of beets.
  • Toss them with the ponzu, and then arrange them on the plates, shingled alternatively.
  • Garnish with the seaweed salad, sesame seeds and fried shallots, which add a delightful crunch.

Ponzu Sauce

makes about 2 cups; great on so many things!

1 3/4 c. Light soy sauce

3 Tbsp. Yuzu juice*

1 Tbsp. Toasted sesame oil

1 tsp. Korean or other mild chili flakes

2 Tbsp. Mirin

1 small piece kombu

2 Tbsp. Bonito flakes

  • Combine all ingredients in a jar or bowl, cover and shake well. Let it sit refrigerated overnight, shaking when you think of it.
  • Strain the solids out, which you could use to flavor other dishes, but if you are not so inclined, discard.
  • Keep sauce refrigerated until needed. This will keep for quite some time.

*Yuzu juice can be pricey, so buy some, use what you need, and then freeze the rest in an ice cube tray. Then, as you need it, pull a chunk out and you’re golden.

—Paul Suplee is a Professor of Culinary Arts
at Wor-Wic Community College and owner of
boxcar40 and boxcar on main.
Visit him at;