Saturday, April 02, 2005

Tuna Tartare

I love sushi and sashimi and a few years ago, while exploring the world in between, I discovered how much I love tuna tartare. Lightly or heavily spiced, simple or with lots of good stuff added, it's become a staple simple appetizer that can be served casually or dressed up to go to town. Tonight, I'm making tuna tartare to take a friend's dinner party and while I'll take it in a bowl (who has time for canapes?), I'll take along fried wonton wrappers seasoned with citrus sea salt and cracked black pepper. I'll also take along a wasabi sour cream that can be dolloped on top.

I used to follow a recipe closely but now I'm to the point where I can taste my way to it. I have no idea how far from traditional mine has strayed -- I started with a recipe from an Emeril cookbook of all places, then have tinkered with it, added to it (jicama, I know it sounds weird but it works, I stole that from Oakley's) and spiced it up. Will serve with a couple of bottles of a light, crisp but not too sweet Johannasberg Riesling.

Here's my recipe in rough amounts. Nothing is sacred. All is too taste:

1.5 lbs very fresh sushi grade ahi tuna. (I use 56th Street Fish Market -- they get this tuna in every day. Pricey, but easiest for me.)
2-3 minced shallots
3 tbsp fresh parsley, fine chopped
1/2 jicama root, peeled, small dice
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
12 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (this is about juice from 2 lemons, I think)
1/2 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

Cut tuna and jicama into small dice and put in mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Combine shallots, mustard, lemon juice and EVOO in a bowl or jar and whisk (or shake) until blended very well. Coat tuna and jicama with the dressing, toss well, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Fry wonton wrappers in hot oil in a wok or deep pan. As you take them out, drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with citrus sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Dissolve 2-4 teaspoons of wasabi powder in 1 cup of sour cream. Use a tiny bit of water to dissolve the powder if it helps, but don't use too much as the sour cream becomes thin. I sometimes add a bit of salt to this, too, as bland sour cream is not my thing. (If you're making plates or canapes, put this sour cream in a squeezy bottle and garnish away.)

You can make canape out of this by topping each wonton wrapper with tuna and a dab of cream (and even top with small pieces of avocado or red onion.) Or, what I usually do, serve the tuna tartare on an attractive plate surrounded by the wrappers with a spoon. You can even make this a sit down appetizer by doing a napoleon style topping with the wrappers -- wrapper topped with tuna topped with a wrapper, then tuna then a wrapper and garnish. It's also a good make ahead recipe, always critical for busy schedules and dinners.

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