When life, or in this case, a good friend, gives you freshly caught yellowfin tuna that her father-in-law caught days before (as in never frozen), you say thank you. And then you say thank you again.
And when you find out that you’re getting the best cut of all, toro, you repeat your thank you’s and cartwheel all the way home determined to make tartare. With fish this good, it’s best to leave it as fresh as possible, and in my case, I didn’t want to cook it in the slightest. A little ginger oil, some heat, a drop or two of sesame oil, and some lime juice to liven it up. That’s pretty much all it took. We served it as an early dinner course last Friday night with a side of good potato chips. By the end, I was so full, I didn’t feel like eating dinner, and yet, I had to get back in the kitchen – I’m starting work on a new project with a very aggressive deadline and every day, I test a few recipes. So much later that night, we had our second meal of the evening. A little excessive, no?
This tuna tartare is the perfect antidote to hot days. It goes beautifully with a glass of crisp, dry Riesling, or a lager. If you’re feeling particularly lazy and decadent, and you have enough fish, this makes for the kind of dinner where you feel accomplished despite the minimal work required. Also great: eating potato chips for dinner no justification needed. I mean, what else goes with tuna tartare as well? It’s practically a carte blanche to indulge.
The only trick you need is an exquisitely sharp knife. One that will readily slice through tuna flesh instead of create tears in it. A small dice (think of it as refining your knife work) is all it takes. And while you might be tempted to go with a food processor on this, I’ll try to steer you clear of it. It will give you a not-so-attractive looking mess. Dice up your fish, put it into a chilled bowl and rechill briefly (ten, maybe, fifteen minutes), before mixing with other ingredients. You can go all fancy and make molds (I like to use old tuna cans with tops and bottoms cut off or biscuit cutters work great too), or serve it family style in a true lazy Friday fashion (as I did). Either way, I’m willing to bet there’ll be nothing left in the end.
Adapted from Eric Riper for Food & Wine
1/4 cup peanut oil (or other neutral oil)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 pound sushi-grade tuna
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons finely chopped scallions
1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha (or wasabi powder)
1 teaspoon finely minced jalapeno
1 teaspoon lightly toasted sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Good quality potato chips, for serving
1. In a small bowl, stir together the peanut oil and ginger and let stand, at room temperature, for at least 2 hours. Strain the oil.
2. With a very sharp knife, cut the tuna into ⅛-inch dice. Place tuna in a pre-chilled bowl and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. In a large, chilled bowl, combine the tuna with 3 tablespoons of the ginger-infused oil, 3 tablespoons of cilantro, scallions, sriracha, jalapeno, sesame seeds and sesame oil. Mix gently, and add the lime juice, mixing gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Either use biscuit molds to shape your tartare on individual plates, or serve, family-style on a big platter alongside potato chips. Right before serving, drizzle the remaining ginger oil, sprinkle with remaining cilantro, and add a drop or two more of the lime juice, if needed.