The Seared Tuna Worth Walking 316 Kilometres For

By Quoashinis “Cosy” Lawson, as told to Crys Stewart

Cosy Lawson is proud of balancing her job in speech and language development for preschool-aged children with raising her family. She teaches her kids what she was taught growing up, from catching and preparing fish to protecting the ocean’s bounty. So when she and her young daughter made headlines in 2010 by walking to Vancouver Island’s capital to raise awareness for declining salmon numbers, she took it all in stride.

I was born on a beach on Wickaninnish Island, just off of Tofino, B.C. My mom just couldn’t bring herself to go to the hospital, and besides, our neighbours were doctors and nurses. I think she had more doctors there than she would’ve had in a regular hospital room. So I was born, literally, on the beach under the sun. My name comes from a gentleman named Joe David from the Clayoquot band; he gave me that name when I was born. It means “raven” in the Nuu-chah-nulth language.

Growing up, the only form of transportation off the island was either a rowboat or you borrowed my dad’s boat and learned how to drive it. From a very early age, we were given all the tools and the encouragement to perform everything we could alongside our parents. My job in the family was to provide the fish. My dad taught us all how to fish, but I was the one who absolutely enjoyed it. Every waking hour, I was out there bringing home the fish.

I’ve witnessed the fish numbers decline over the years. Back in 2010, we’d heard about this group of people who were going to walk from Port Hardy to Victoria to raise awareness about declining fish stocks. Over dinner, I said that would be a huge cause near and dear to my heart and that I’d really like to walk part of it. My daughter said, “Well, I think we should walk it all.” Of course, I went into “I’ve got work! I’ve got kids! I’ve got responsibilities!” mode, but when I woke up the next morning and realized this was a very important matter to her as well, I decided we should walk the entire 316-kilometre route together.

From Tofino, it’s a winding road with not much of a shoulder, but my parents, husband and son were in our support vehicle. It took about two weeks to complete the journey. By the time we got down to the island highway, communities were welcoming us, and we marched into Victoria along with 7,000 or 8,000 people. My daughter turned 12 on the steps of the parliament buildings the day we arrived. Afterward, I heard all the walkers among us ended up shutting down the main part of Victoria for many, many hours.

I want to teach my kids the things that were instilled in us growing up: respect for our environment, our resources, never taking more than you can eat. We go out once a year for the tuna and get enough for my whole family. I was taught to make sure I thanked anything that gave its life for my food and make sure nothing goes to waste. I don’t think we’d be the same people without making sure those things are passed on.

I have a big family—my two sisters and their families, my two brothers and my parents—and, often, good friends who are like family join us as well. We get together quite often, and 99 per cent of the time, it’s spur of the moment. Seared tuna is a really easy go-to! Once it’s seared, I slice it very thin and cover it in garlic-ginger ponzu sauce. It’s really simple and amazingly delicious.

For dinner on the beach on Wickaninnish, we all show up in our boats. My sister will have a dish. I’ll have tuna. My mom will dig up potatoes from the garden, which we’ll wash and put them in a pot over the fire. We’ll have a huge salad out of the garden that’s right beside the campfire. We’ll pick blackberries and have them with whipping cream. We’ve never been rich, but we live in an incredibly rich manner as far as love and food and friends and family go.

Seared Albacore Tuna Loin, courtesy of Quoashinis “Cosy” Lawson


Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1/3 cup (75 mL) ponzu sauce
1 tsp (5 mL) finely chopped garlic
1 tsp (5 mL) grated ginger

1 tuna loin
1/4 cup (60 mL) sesame oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
Freshly cracked pepper to taste

1. In small bowl, mix together ponzu sauce, garlic and ginger. Set aside.

1. Dry loin with paper towel. Drizzle with 2 tbsp (30 mL) sesame oil and rub in. Add pepper all over. (I use about 2 tsp/10 mL, but I like a lot of pepper.)
2. Add vegetable oil to hot pan over medium-high heat; sear loin evenly on all sides, about 2 minutes per side for medium-size loin. Remove to cutting board.
3. Slice loin crosswise into ¼- to ½-inch (5 mm to 1 cm) thick pieces. Remove to dish or plate; drizzle with sauce. Drizzle with remaining sesame oil.

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