This dish is hugely popular wherever I cook. Magically, it’s light and rich at the same time, and the bright flavors of toasted sesame, soy and pickled ginger are refreshing with the ice-cold fish. In my restaurant, we kept salad plates in the refrigerator; if you’ve never tried this at home, do. There’s really something special about enjoying crisp greens or, in this case, raw fish from an icy surface, and that doesn’t have to be a plate. I’ve served food on cold blocks of Himalayan pink salt, terra cotta tile, glass and slate.
Offer some wasabi on the side if you like a blast of head-clearing heat. A note about the fish: Choosing a sustainable, ethical fish is getting more and more difficult. For this recipe, stick with something fairly safe and uncomplicated, such as wild-caught Arctic char or Canadian-farmed trout. Salmon trout has a rich, fatty flesh, very close to its namesake.
Yield: 2 Servings
- 8 ounces of sushi-quality, pink, cold-water, fatty fish, skinned and chopped into 1⁄2-inch dice (should be about 1 cup)
- 3 scallions, finely chopped
- 1⁄2 cup finely diced English cucumber
- 4 teaspoons finely chopped pickled ginger
(preferably without artificial sweeteners)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon mirin
- 1⁄4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar
- 1⁄2 teaspoon black sesame seeds
- 1 free-run egg yolk
- 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla sugar
- pinch wasabi powder
Into a nonreactive bowl, add the fish, scallions, cucumber, ginger, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, vinegar and sesame seeds. Stir together to blend, then cover and pop back into the refrigerator to chill before serving.
While the tartare is chilling, mix together the vanilla sugar and wasabi powder in a small dish; set aside.
When it’s time to serve, place the tartare on a chilled platter and make a depression in the center to cradle the yolk. Slip the yolk into the depression, top the yolk with the sugar wasabi mixture and brûlée with a kitchen torch.
Serve immediately with something crisp, such as Japanese rice crackers, toasted baguette or deep-fried wonton wrappers. This dish is made even more special when served with a little chilled sake or Japanese plum wine on ice.
Raw Fish Tips
- To prepare, use a nonreactive bowl, such as glass, Pyrex, glazed earthenware or plastic.
- Keep fish cool until the last minute.
- When purchasing fish, ask the fishmonger for sushi-quality or sushi-grade wild or organic farmed fish.
- Ask him or her to skin the fish for you, or do it yourself with a very sharp boning knife.
- Ask whether he or she has already removed the pin bones. When you get home, run your hand over the fish, just in case, feeling for missed pin bones and use tweezers to pull out any missed bones.
This story originally appeared in the November/December 2017 issue of Chickens magazine.