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Acqua California Bistro’s Yellowfin Tuna Tartare

Acqua California Bistro’s Yellowfin Tuna Tartare

Feast your eyes on this stunning presentation of tuna tartare created in San Diego and layered with avocado, bell pepper and a chili garlic sauce.

This Yellowfin Tuna Tartare is stunningly good. Image by Kurt Winner
This Yellowfin Tuna Tartare is stunningly good. Images by Kurt Winner

You can feast on Acqua California Bistro’s Yellowfin Tuna Tartare just steps from San Diego’s Mission Bay, at the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa. Get a reservation for a bay front table and enjoy a fresh-crafted cocktail or something from the cellar which received a Wine Spectator Award. Sip with this lovely, light appetizer to enjoy together as the sun goes down and lights up the bay. Hilton San Diego Resort Kurt Winner

The resort is large and offers many room types for all budgets. I prefer the low-slung waterfront villa rooms, especially the ground floor with your own patio where you can open the sliding door and be right on the beach for a volleyball game or rent a jet ski or a bicycle. Fire pits are close by and the hotel will deliver firewood, perfect for toasting S’Mores. These quiet, private rooms are also a short walk to the Acqua California Bistro where Executive Chef Hermann Schafer creates his culinary magic. Here he provides the recipe for my favorite appetizer.

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Acqua California Bistro’s Yellowfin Tuna Tartare

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  • Author: Executive Chef Hermann Schafer
  • Yield: 4 1x


The freshest Yellowfin Tuna is complemented by avocado, crunchy cucumber, three sweet peppers and a playful vinaigrette to dance on your tongue.


  • 1– pound sushi-grade yellow fin tuna
  • 1/3 cup very thinly sliced scallions (white parts)
  • ½ cup Chili Vinaigrette
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ ripe Hass avocado
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Coarse salt to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • Chili garlic sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Canola oil
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
  • Frisee
  • 1 large seedless cucumber (unpeeled, elongated ends trimmed off)


  1. TUNA
  2. To prepare the tuna, work quickly and think of slicing, not chopping, the delicate tuna.
  3. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife and an impeccably clean cutting board, slice the tuna into ¼ inch dice.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Just before serving (otherwise the vinaigrette will “cook” the tuna), mix the tuna, scallions, and vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Dice avocados and season with lemon Juice, salt, and pepper.
  9. To julienne bell peppers, halve the peppers and remove the seeds. Lay a pepper half flat, inside up, and remove the rips with a sharp knife.
  10. Cut into julienne strips.
  11. Place the strips in a bowl of ice water to create pepper curls.
  13. In a medium bowl, whisk together the chili garlic sauce, rice wine vinegar, and soy sauce. Gradually whisk in the oil until the vinaigrette has emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
  14. Add additional rice wine vinegar or oil to balance the dressing, if needed.
  16. Placea ring mold in the center of a chilled large dinner plate.
  17. Using a mandolin (or a very sharp knife) cut the cucumber into paper-thin slices.
  18. Using the outside edge of the mold as a guide, make a ring of overlapping cucumber slices.
  19. Spoon the tuna tartare into the mold, pressing it down lightly, and top it with the avocado.
  20. Pile the dressed frisee salad into the center of the avocado, and garnish it with some of the bell pepper curls.
  21. Carefully lift the ring mold up and off of the plate.
  22. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and plate.
  • Category: Seafood
  • Cuisine: American


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