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Ahi -- a knockout tuna appetizer
Diakon root flavors specialty from steakhouse

Question: My business associate hosted a dinner at Sullivan's Steakhouse in Denver, and I was delighted when the waiter suggested an Ahi appetizer. I don t think of Sullivan's as serving tuna, but it was excellent. It would be great to have the recipe. -- Della Crosby, Indianapolis

Answer: As the last bare-knuckle world heavyweight champion, John L. Sullivan (1858-1918) is an American legend in the annals of boxing.Sullivan, sometimes known as The Boston Strong Boy, brought boxing to the forefront of America s sporting culture, as he won more than half his prize bouts by knockout. The old-fashioned pugilist, a brutal fighter and punishing hitter, knew nothing about skillful boxing, but his extraordinary physical power and incredible stamina made him a winner in the ring and a real-life urban folk-hero. After going 75 rounds with Jake Kilrain, Sullivan declared, I want fighting, not foot-racing. The copy of the Championship Belt is the last tangible public memory of John L. Sullivan, a man who never stepped back.

In a bare-knuckle bid for diners, Sullivan's sizzling Kansas City strips are sharing the bill of fare with seafood. Ahi Dijon, a standout steakhouse appetizer, is yellow-fin tuna, pan flash-seared, thinly sliced and fanned over a bed of spicy mustard. Intensifying the piquancy of the dish is diakon root, best described as a white carrot-shaped Oriental radish. Diakon root is usually available in the fresh produce section of upscale supermarkets or Asian markets.

SULLIVAN'S AHI DIJON

1 pound tuna

1/8 cup dry mustard

1 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/8 cup soy sauce

1/8 cup beer or 1/8 cup apple juice

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 2-inch long thin strips

1 rib celery, trimmed and cut into 2-inch long thin strips

1/8 cup diakon root, peeled and cut into 2-inch long thin strips

1-2 tablespoons Cajun spice 1 tablespoon chopped pickled ginger (more to taste)

1 cup cilantro

Trim tuna and cut off any skin. Cut tuna in half to form two portions.

Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine dry mustard, Dijon mustard, soy sauce and beer and mix until blended. Set sauce aside. In a mixing bowl, combine carrots, celery and diakon root and toss to combine. Set aside. Coat a large skillet with a nonstick cooking spray and place skillet over medium heat. Roll both portions of tuna in Cajun spice and sear rare, about 1 minute per side, in preheated skillet. Pull tuna from pan and slice into thin slices. Divide sauce equally between two plates and top with cut tuna and vegetable mixture. Garnish with pickled ginger and cilantro. Yields 2 appetizer size servings.

Diane Howard is a columnist for Hunt House Syndicate. America a la Carte welcomes recipe requests. Send the complete address of the restaurant along with your name, address and phone number to: America a la Carte, PO Box 5994, Austin, TX 78763-5994; fax 512-453-2145 or e-mail amercarte @aol.com.