Wasabi-Coconut Panna Cotta with Tuna and Mango

Well, here we are and it’s the first day of the Paleo Iron Chef competition at the Reddit paleo board; the ingredient is coconut milk.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do with this ingredient that wasn’t your run-of-the-mill preparation, or just as a substitute for dairy.  Panna cotta seemed like a good idea, but I didn’t want to do a dessert, either.  Would a savory panna cotta work?  Why, yes, it would.

Mangoes are also in season, and are $1 each at the local grocery store.  I also had a package of nori – the sheets of roasted seaweed used in sushi rolls – languishing in my cabinet, as well as a small jar of wasabi powder.  Once I had those ingredients together, thoughts of sashimi-grade tuna and fish roe weren’t far behind.

The results were surprising.  There was just enough wasabi powder in the coconut milk to give it a hint of heat without overwhelming the coconut flavor; the mango lent it just enough sweetness.  The tuna and nori lent textural interest, as well as flavor, and the fish roe – I used lumpfish caviar, since the only salmon roe I could find contained both HFCS and MSG – just enough saltiness.

Each little square was two bites, and very delicious bites they were.  This would make an outstanding appetizer for a seafood dinner, or as part of a buffet, although they would need to be kept on ice.

As far as the preparation goes, yes, it is a bit involved, but the result is really stunning.  You can make it easier by cutting the panna cotta into the required squares and topping with the nori, then chopping the tuna and mango and layering them on top before finishing with the fish roe.  It should be just as delicious, but perhaps not quite as pretty, and will make more servings.

Wasabi-Coconut Panna Cotta with Tuna and Mango
Wasabi-Coconut Panna Cotta with Tuna and Mango
Serves: 14
Ingredients
  • 1 can (15 oz) full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon wasabi powder
  • pinch kosher or sea salt
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 medium mango, peeled and sliced
  • 1 sheet nori
  • 8 ounces sashimi-grade tuna
  • 1/2 tablespoon fish roe
Instructions
  1. Pour the cold water into a small bowl and sprinkle in the gelatin. Set aside.
  2. Heat the coconut milk and salt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering; whisk in the wasabi powder. Stir about 1/3 of the hot coconut milk into the gelatin and continue stirring until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Whisk the coconut milk/gelatin mixture back into the coconut milk in the saucepan, then pour into a lightly oiled 8 x 8 glass baking dish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  3. Using a thin, sharp knife, slice the tuna lengthwise into thirds. Cut each slice into 1 1/2″ squares, until there are 14 squares in all. Set aside.
  4. Lay the sheet of nori on a flat surface, shiny side down. Using a sharp knife, cut out fourteen 1 1/2″ squares. Lay each square on top of a square of of tuna. Set aside. Peel the mango and remove the pit; slice thinly and cut into fourteen 1 1/2″ squares. Place each piece of mango on a nori-topped square of tuna. Set aside.
  5. Remove the panna cotta from the refrigerator and cut out fourteen 1 1/2″ squares; place each square on a stack of tuna, nori and mango. Top each with a small dollop of fish roe, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 95 calories, 6.6g total fat, 9.7mg cholesterol, 25.5mg sodium, 176.2mg potassium, 5.3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.5g sugar, 4.8g protein.