It’s Wednesday! That pivotal day in week that separates memories of weekend’s past and hopes of weekend’s future. For me, Wednesday signifies a day when I’ll be home with time to cook. The Chelsea Market, where I so conveniently work, lends itself perfectly to shopping for dinner ingredients after work. The only problem is that I have to be headed straight home, and luckily today is Wednesday so I was!
Figuring out what I want for dinner is exactly like brainstorming for any idea. I’m not exactly sure where the idea starts, only that it develops over the day based on what I see, smell and hear. Today, about a half hour before I left work, I started to crave salmon. Anytime I only have one ingredient in mind I like to look up recipes. Epicurious.com is a good website to go to when you don’t really know what you want to make. Well that is exactly what I did. After looking at multiple pictures and recipes of pan seared, poached and roasted salmon, I decided I wanted to eat it raw.
Cooking, in the most technical term, refers to adding heat. I even think that someone got kicked off top chef for not having “cooked” anything. Well if that’s true, then I didn’t cook tonight, and if you follow the recipe below, neither will you.
Salmon Tartare with Avocado Puree and Trout Roe
Timing: 30 minutes
Skill Level: Medium
Serving Size: 2
Equipment: Mixing Bowls, Plating Ring (not sure of the technical term, but check out the pictures below and you’ll know what I’m talking about) A very sharp knife. A cutting board. A food processor.
6 oz salmon – If you’re not familiar with ordering salmon tell the guy or girl behind the counter that you’re making a salmon tartare and which kind they’d recommend. Then ask them to remove the skin.
1 package shiso leaves – You can find these at any japanese specialty market. Shiso is by far my favorite flavor. If I could grow it in my apartment I’d find a way to use it in everything I made. If you’re not familiar with it, its kind of a mix between mint and basil but that description doesn’t really do it justice. If you can’t find shiso, you can substitute chives.
1 tsp sesame oil
1 jar trout roe – If you don’t like caviar, skip this ingredient.
Make sure your knife is very sharp. When cutting through anything soft, whether it be a tomato, fish or meat, the sharper your knife is the cleaner the cut will be.
Before you even look at your salmon, make sure your entire mise en place is complete. Mise en place is french for “set in place,” and that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re organizing your ingredients so that when you need them, they are there, cut into the size you want them to be cut, and into the perfect quanitity. A good thing to keep in mind when you’re preparing anything for yourself is to think about how you’d want it to look or taste if you were eating it in a restaurant. When I think about a tartare, I want everything to be small and uniform. The star of the dish should be the protein.
Mince the shallot, shiso, and jalepeno. Unless you know you want to use everything you cut up, keep these items in separate bowls.
Cut the cucumber width wise into very thin slices. This will act as a base for your tartare.
Zest one lime and one lemon.
Move the skin and seeds from your avocados and cut them into small pieces. Place in a food processor with juice from a lime and season with salt. Blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
Now it’s time to cut your salmon. The goal is to cut the salmon into little cubes. To do this, first cut your salmon into slices no wider than your pinky. Then lay those slices down and slice length wise so you’re left with long thin strips. Then you can slide all of those thin strips together and cut them width wise into cubes.
Continue until you have cut all your salmon into cubes.
Place the salmon in the bowl and add the sesame oil, shiso, shallot, jalepeno and lemon and lime zest.
Add the juice from one lemon.
Season with salt.
Now for the fun part! Take your plating ring and put it on your plate. Place 3 to 4 slices of cucumber on the bottom so they cover all of the surface area. Fill 3/4 of the way with the salmon tartare mixture, pressing firmly to make sure there are no holes and it will keep its shape. Finally, top with the avocado puree, smoothing over the top with a knife so it becomes an even layer. Now, slowly and carefully remove the mold, pulling straight up.
Voila! I love using the ring molds because it can make anything, even rice, look elegant. Now, if you want, top with a spoonful of the trout caviar. Tonight, I ate this dish with a simple salad on the side, but you can accompany it with whatever you please, or it can certainly stand alone!