I recently joined our local library, which means there are no fewer than a dozen books laying around, most of them related to food and cooking in some form or fashion. One such book I stumbled on quite by accident “The Spice Necklace: My Adventures in Caribbean Cooking, Eating and Island Life” by Ann Vanderhoof. The book chronicles Ann and her husband’s food-focused jaunt through the Caribbean. Her subtle humor covers up the fact that you are learning a lot, and that she must have studied a lot. It’s a true education in Caribbean cooking and food culture and history told through colorful stories. It also contains 80 or so recipes. There are many I still intend to try, but the Seared Tuna with a Cocoa Crust jumped to the top of my priority list before I even read the ingredients.

Joel was suspicious at first, and of course, the idea of chocolate and fish is a little out there. But remember, you’ll be using pure cocoa powder, not a Hershey’s bar. It’s a smoky flavor more so than sweet.

I highly recommend the book and the recipe, which can be found on page 259 of the book.

Seared Tuna with a Cocoa Crust:

4 tsp pure cocoa powder

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp mace (we used freshly ground nutmeg)

1 tsp brown sugar

1 to 1.5 lbs sushi grade tuna, each steak should 1 to 1.5 inches thick

About 4 tsp of oil


Combine the cocoa, sugar and spices.

Rub each tuna steak on both sides with oil and then rub the cocoa-spice mixture onto both sides, evenly coating. 

Heat a skillet or griddle until it is very hot. Sear the tuna on the first side for about 2 minutes and then the other for about 1 for a good medium-rare.