Monday, August 13, 2012

Tuna Tartare: The Recipe

Most people who dine with me in restaurants know that if Tuna Tartare is on the menu, it is hard for me to pass up. I have gotten to enjoy the Tuna Tartare at such places as Lavo, Ed's Chowder House, Lure Fishbar, and Tolani, and I have never been disappointed. Tartare is a French term describing finely chopped raw meat that is seasoned in some way (leave it to France to give a French name to a dish with a generally Asian flavor profile). It can be made up with all sorts of twists (Lavo has an interesting mediterranean take on the dish with garlic and olives), but the freshness of the fish cannot be compromised. We're talking sushi-grade tuna, here.

In my search for the perfect Tuna Tartare recipe, I struck culinary gold! I discovered the book On the Line by Eric Ripert and Christine Muhlke, offering a behind-the-scenes look at the famous restaurant Le Bernardin, that, upon its opening in 1986, "caused a shift in how Americans ate fish." With three Michelin stars and four stars from the New York Times, Le Bernardin is far more than just a French seafood restaurant. Tucked in the back of this insightful book is a recipe for Tuna. As with all of Ripert's dishes, the star ingredient comes first in the title, followed by a description: Seared and Marinated Yellowfin Tuna Tartare "Sandwich" with Ginger Oil. I may not be at a point in life when a $125 prix fixe dinner is in the stars, but I am thrilled to know that I can attempt to create a small taste of Le Bernardin at home.

This week I will be preparing just the marinated part of the Tuna Tartare from On the Line. Although it may be sacrilegious, I'm also going to add some avocado to the recipe. In my humble opinion, a ripe avocado can do only good things to a tartare. I'll make some flatbread crackers to go with the Tuna Tartare (also from Ripert's recipe collection) and serve it with a cold Asian noodle salad to round out the entire meal. This dish is simple in process but complex in ingredients, so making the shopping list will be the true test of memorization.

An amuse bouche of Tuna Tartare from Le Bernardin
(photo from Lorraine L. on Yelp)
One day I will get to sit here and experience seafood bliss

The Recipe: Marinated Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with Ginger Oil and Flatbread Crackers, adapted from On the Line
Yield: 6 servings (4 oz. tuna with 4 crackers)
Tuna Tartare Ingredients:
  • 1.5 lbs yellowfin tuna
  • 1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 avocado (optional)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup ginger oil (recipe follows)
  • 3 tbsp wasabi paste
  • 3 tbsp minced scallion (white part only)
  • 3 tbsp cilantro julienne
  • 3 tbsp yuzu (or lime) juice
  • 1 tbsp minced jalapeño
  • 1 tsp Sriracha chile sauce
  • Salt and pepper
Tuna Tartare Preparation:
  • Cut the tuna into a 1/4 inch dice. Put in the refrigerator until ready to mix.
  • Chop avocado into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Combine the diced tuna, ginger oil, wasabi, scallion, jalapeño, cilantro, yuzu juice, canola oil, and Sriracha in a stainless steel bowl.
  • Gently mix in the avocado and season with salt and white pepper.
  • Squeeze lemon juice over the tuna and serve on flatbread crackers.
Ginger Oil Ingredients:
  • 4 oz ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
Ginger Oil Preparation:
  • Put the ginger in a clean jar and add the oil.
  • Seal tightly and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate overnight.
  • Can be stored in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
Flatbread Cracker Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
Flatbread Cracker Preparation:
  • Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
  • Whisk together the water and olive oil, add to the flour and mix until smooth.
  • Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 300°.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough very thin and slice into 1.5"x4.5" rectangles. 
  • Place the rectangles on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
  • Cool on a rack and store for up to a week.

Time to memorize: 4 days (I may have to peek at the cracker recipe but the tuna will be memorized!)

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