Raw foods isn't just about crudités. Sushi and rare steaks are just the tip of the iceberg, and I have yet to meet a carpaccio, crudo, or tartare that didn't make my day.
As much as I enjoy these raw preparations, in my mind they have always been restaurant dishes. It was an absolute revelation when I saw this recipe for Giant Tuna or Salmon Tartare in Mark Peel's New Classic Family Dinners. Reading through the recipe I realized that while tartare is an elegant dish requiring the best-quality fish, it's one that can easily be made at home.
Aside from a fair amount of dicing the fish into precise cubes, this recipe couldn't be more simple. Peel throws in a few chef secrets that help out immensely. The diced cucumbers (hot house, please) are salted and left to sit for 15 minutes to leech out some of the water and heighten the crunch factor. The onions are finely chopped then soaked in cold water to avoid the oniony stinkiness that can be so off-putting.
I tossed the salted and rinsed cucumbers with the newly odorless onions, some beautiful tuna, fresh dill, lime juice, olive oil, salt and cayenne and mixed it briefly. It was perfect—the kind of tartare that would send my heart aflutter if I ordered it out. I'm not quite sure why I didn't try to replicate this restaurant favorite sooner, but I am beyond pleased to know it's possible.
- Yield:4 servings
- 1 Japanese cucumber (about 4 ounces), cut in half lengthwise, seeds scraped out with a small spoon, cut in 1/4-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup finely diced red onion (1/4-inch dice), soaked in cold water for 5 minutes, drained, rinsed, and dried on paper towels
- 3/4 pound center-cut albacore or salmon filet, cut into 1/2-inch dice (or a little smaller)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of cayenne
- Lettuce or endive leaves and toasted croutons for serving
Sprinkle the cucumber with salt and let it sit for 15 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Rinse and drain on paper towels.
In a medium bowl, gently toss the cucumber, fish, onion, and dill with the lime juice and olive oil. Season with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of cayenne. Taste and adjust seasonings. Chill until ready to serve. Serve on lettuce or endive leaves, with toasted croutons.
Note: If you are worried about eating raw fish because of parasites, use frozen fish. Freezing kills the parasites; many sushi chefs use fish that has been previously frozen for this reason.