Maui Onion Crusted Seared Ahi

"This recipe is by Tom Selman and David Paul Johnson, of David Paul's Lahaina Grill in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii. It was the Grand Prize Winner of the 2001 Maui Onion Recipe Contest, Professional Division. Be sure to dehydrate the onions for 24 hours before starting this recipe. I've never made this recipe before, but I have ordered and eaten it at the restaurant before. It sounds like a bit of work, but based on taste, I think that it's well worth the effort."
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Ready In:
1hr 30mins


  • 16 ounces ahi fillets, premium grade
  • 12 ounces maui onions, sliced thin, then dehydrated and crushed
  • 16 ounces maui onions, caramelized
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt and pepper
  • Vanilla Bean Rice

  • 1 tablespoon shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 3 cups clam broth (or use 2 1/2 cups of the broth and 4 ounces white wine) or 3 cups fish stock (or use 2 1/2 cups of the broth and 4 ounces white wine)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • Apple Cider-Soy Butter Vinaigrette

  • 2 cups apple cider, filtered
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 8 ounces soy margarine, chilled and cubed
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 ounce chives, finely chopped
  • black sesame seed (optional)


  • Apple Cider-Soy Butter Vinaigrette:

  • Mix the vinegar and cider in a sauce pan over medium heat.
  • Reduce to 1/2 cup.
  • Just before serving, add cold butter and margarine in small quantities while mixing over medium heat.
  • Place in a blender and pulse for just a second or two.
  • Caramelized Onion:

  • Over medium high heat cook onion with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy bottom braiser or sauce pan, constantly stirring until onions caramelize, then set aside.
  • Vanilla Bean Rice:

  • Saute rice over medium heat with vanilla bean, shallots, butter, white wine (if using). Add clam broth.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat.
  • Cover and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, approximately 20 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff.
  • Seared Ahi:

  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet.
  • Roll ahi filet in dehydrated crushed onion.
  • Sear on all sides until browned.
  • Slice against grain of fish for serving.
  • Plating:

  • Serve on a large plate with rice in the center, top with fish and a tablespoon of caramelized onion.
  • Drizzle sauce over and around fish and garnish with chopped chives and sesame seeds.

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