Monday, March 26, 2012

Salmon Tartare

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
One of my guilty pleasures is watching the show Worst Cooks in America. I don't watch it to gloat over the contestants since I know that certain people should really not be allowed in the kitchen. The fascination stems from rooting for the contestant with the saddest back-story and hoping that they do make it past the next round. It is the same sentiment I feel when watching Chopped. I always wish the most obnoxious person be the first to go. To me, this makes the world a whole lot better place to live in. Anyway, while watching this show on a Sunday, my friends stopped by to say hello after being away for a week due to spring break. At that point, the contestants were preparing salmon tartare which gave my friends the idea to suggest it for a future dinner. Being a big fan of sashimi and at the same time, curious as to what it will taste like, I said yes. Pending, of course, if sushi-grade salmon is available in town. Otherwise, it will have to be tuna tartare. 

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Recipes for the tartare varied from being just plain cubed salmon sparingly seasoned with sesame oil and a few other spices to more complex ones where chopped cucumbers, jalapeno and onions are mixed with the diced raw fish. The rawness of the fish also varied from almost sashimi-like to being cooked almost like in a ceviche dish. Personally, I like the addition of lemon to perk up the flavor without marinating the fish since I like to savor the freshness of the fish. For this dinner then, I went for a tartare that is almost sashimi-like in texture and to top it off, I garnished it with caviar as influenced by a recipe on the Zen Can Cook blog. The salmon is balanced by the addition of avocados which gives the dish a buttery taste in your palette. The fish itself, although raw, surprisingly loses its fishy taste and smell after seasoning it with a minimal amount of spices. Overall, this dish is very clean both in design and in taste.

Salmon Tartare - Adapted*

1/2 lb sushi-grade salmon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + 1 tsp extra
2 tsp chives, chopped
2 tsp shallots, diced finely
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp zest of lemon
pinch of white pepper
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
Roe (Lumpfish caviar)
1 avocado
pinch of salt and pepper
1 cucumber

1. Dice the salmon into a fine dice using a sharp knife. Set aside in a bowl. If 
    not serving right away, keep the diced fish in the fridge. The salmon has 
    to be cold when served.

2. Add the tablespoon of olive oil, shallots, chives, one teaspoon of lemon 
    juice and the zest, white pepper and the Kosher salt. Check for flavor and 
    a tiny bit more of salt if needed. Set aside.

3. Slice the avocado in half and remove the pith. Spoon out the flesh and 
    dice finely. Season with one teaspoon olive oil, one teaspoon of lemon 
    juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well. 

4. Trim the end of a cucumber and using a mandolin, make paper thin slices. 
    You will need three for each serving.

5. To plate, lay three cucumber slices on a plate and with a small cookie 
    cutter, spoon a tablespoon of the avocado mixture on top of the 
    cucumber slices and pack lightly. Top with a tablespoon of the salmon 
    tartare and flatten the top. Dot with half a teaspoon of the caviar. Pull 
    out the cookie cutter and serve right away.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I was able to make 8 servings from the recipe above. I was actually a bit apprehensive since I'm not a big fan of caviar. However, the delicacy of the tartare needed the punch from the caviar so the best way to eat this dish is to take a little bit of the caviar and push your fork down taking bits of the tartare and the avocado mixture. This way, the three flavors mix in your mouth resulting to a complex and yet delightful amalgamation of tastes and textures. To add to the decadence, my friend also served salmon caviar on an artisan bread.

*Zen Can Cook Salmon Tartare.

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