Dishing Up the Dirt

Tuna Steaks with Zucchini Butter

That moment of awe after you catch your first ever tuna.

Last week, I stepped out of my comfort zone, shook hands with a few strangers, and nervously hopped on board a small commercial fishing boat. We crossed the Columbia River Bar (which will go down as one of the most terrifying/exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had) and eventually found ourselves in calmer water, 50 miles off shore. It was the first time I’ve been on a boat in the ocean and couldn’t see land. I put myself in this position because in getting ready for the Local Thirty, I wanted to learn first hand how one of my favorite seafood items ends up on my table. I learned, the process alright and my right arm is more sore than ever from reeling in these powerful fish. But what hit me the most was the folks on the boat with me. These guys are pros and risk their lives everyday and push through long hours of  hard work, intense focus and unpredictable conditions to bring ethical food from our local waters to people’s plates. They welcomed me with open arms, put a rod in my hand and let me experience one of the most thrilling moments of my life–reeling in my dinner with folks who started off as strangers and quickly became a safety net, folks to joke with, and share a well-earned meal with. They got me back to land safely (10 hours later) and we got to kick back with a few cold beers and a delicious tuna dinner.

This is the first official week of the Local Thirty experiment and I’m beyond grateful that this challenge has pushed me out of my comfort zone and into memorable experiences with new friends, new landscapes, and damn good food. This journey really started out about finding local ingredients, but I’m learning it’s about the people too. I can’t wait to shake hands with a ll the new folks September will bring my way. Thank you to the wonderful crew at Day Boat Tuna for getting this farm girl out of the dirt and into crazy waters. Thank you Michael and David from Modoc Stories for documenting this moment. And dad, I hope this tuna makes you proud!


Tuna Steaks with Zucchini Butter

Prep Time: 20 minutes    Cook Time: 15 minutes    Serves: 4

Zucchini Butter
  • 2 pounds zucchini or assorted summer squash-- (0 miles)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter--(81 miles)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced--(0 miles)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme--(0 miles)
  • salt to taste--(157 miles)
Tuna Steaks
  • 4 (5-6 ounce) Tuna steaks about 1 inch thick--(175 miles)
  • salt and pepper--(157 miles)
  • Unsalted Butter--(81 miles)
  • Flakey sea salt for serving--(157 miles)


  1. Coarsely grate the zucchini with a box grater or with the grating attachment on your food processor.
  2. Ring out most of the liquid from the zucchini with a dish towel.
  3. In a medium sized deep skillet over medium-high heat add the butter. Once the butter is starting to melt add the garlic, thyme, and grated zucchini. Cook, stirring often, until the zucchini reaches a spreadable consistency, about 15-18 minutes.  The mixture will still have plenty of texture but will be more "jam like" after cooking. If you scorch the bottom of the mixture turn the flame down but don't stress! Just stir those crispy burnt bits into the butter for added flavor! If need be add a touch of water or white wine to deglaze the pan. The zucchini will hold its bright green color and slowly caramelize into a nice vegetable jam.
  4. Pat the tuna steaks dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the tuna until a dark, golden brown crust forms, about 3 minutes. Flip the tuna and cook for about 2 minutes longer or just until the edges are crisp but the center is still pink.


*Use this recipe as a guide. Adjust measurements and ingredients as necessary.

Leave a Reply

9 thoughts on “Tuna Steaks with Zucchini Butter

  1. Lenny says:

    Zucchini butter looks awesome. What else will you, do you, put it on?

  2. Susan says:

    This recipe sounds quite intriguing, as does your fishing adventure. I need to tell you, though, that the word “ring” you use, should be spelled “wring”. Sorry, I don’t mean to be the spelling or grammar police, but seeing words like that spelled improperly drives me crazy (what this should tell you is that I am an old person who was required to learn grammar and spelling).

    1. Rebecca says:

      Susan, I am pretty sure that in the context of the sentence in question, “ring” is supposed to read “bring” and it is a simple typo where the “b” was accidentally omitted. Sorry for the correction but, like you, things like that drive me nuts 😉

  3. Lindsay Gott says:

    Inspiring and interesting Andrea…well done on the whole adventure and resulting feast.

  4. jean says:


    1. Andrea says:

      Ahhh!!! this was definitely out of my comfort zone but I’m so damn happy I got out there!!

  5. jeff says:

    Cool. My idea to sorta participate was to keep a few of the fish I normally let go and use my garden for the rest as it winds down maybe once a week. Some striped bass or black crappie will taste nice with the zucchini butter I’m sure 🙂
    It’s funny- I’ve gotten used to not killing stuff, though I buy meat from the store… Have fun this month.

    1. Andrea says:

      Love it!

  6. Sarah says:

    This was so good! I made this exactly as written even though I was doubting the zucchini butter. It was all so tasty and the flavors really went well together. Next time I make this I think I will make even more zucchini butter! Thanks for the awesome recipes! =)

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