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.
Reprinted with permission from The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from My Parisian Kitchen by Clotilde Dusoulier. Copyright 2013. Published by Clarkson Potter Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
Seaweed Tartare from 'The French Market Cookbook'
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) dehydrated mixed seaweed flakes
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 rounded teaspoons drained capers
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil or untoasted sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Put the seaweed in a bowl with 1 cup (240 ml) cold water. Set aside to rehydrate for 30 minutes
Meanwhile, combine the garlic, shallot, and lemon juice in another bowl; the acidity will soften the raw edge of the garlic and shallot.
Drain the seaweed thoroughly, transfer to a food processor, and add the garlic mixture, the capers, both oils, the salt, and a grinding of black pepper. Pulse until finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl regularly. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Transfer to a jar, close tightly, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight, to allow the flavors to mingle. Eat within 2 to 3 days.