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Our first featured recipe from Clotilde Dusoulier's new cookbook, The French Market Cookbook, is one of the most unique in the book. After all, seaweed probably isn't the first thing you think of when you hear the word "tartare." Beef, tuna, and even salmon are obvious choices and "meaty" vegetarian stand-ins like beets or mushrooms pop up on restaurant menus now and again. But even though seaweed tartare sounds a bit strange, its salinity, chew, and intense umami fit perfectly within the tartare framework. Capers intensify its brininess, garlic adds depth, lemon juice brightens, and oil—a mix of olive and walnut—enriches the vegetable with an elegant sheen. The final spread tastes more like oceany pesto than vegetarian tartare; still, no matter the nomenclature, this is one unforgettable dish.
Why I picked this recipe: I couldn't pass up sampling such an unusual tartare.
What worked: The recipe couldn't be easier: reheat the seaweed, squeeze a couple lemons, and process. And the result tasted far more complex than the sum of its parts—I couldn't stop dipping my spoon in to taste.
What didn't: Perhaps it was the brand of seaweed flakes that I used, but my yield was much higher than written.
Suggested tweaks: I couldn't find a mixed packet of seaweed flakes, and I didn't want to buy a bunch of individual packages, so I just used flaked wakame. The result was plenty complex. I also used capers packed in salt, so I didn't end up needing to add the additional 1/4 teaspoon.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and Berkeleyside NOSH, and she blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.