Thursday, December 6, 2007

CSA week two - salmon tartare

I got some distance into preparing pickles (dumping ancient pickled beets and scrubbing out the coffee crock I use as a pickling jar) when I decided that the CSA cucumbers are too watery to be properly pickled and some other application is called for. As you probably guessed from the subject line, first out of the gate is salmon tartare.

A lot of the recipes out there call for sushi grade salmon, but I don't think that's really necessary for this dish for a couple reasons. First, when the fish is chopped so finely (1/4" cubes) and mixed with so many other ingredients, you're not going to be left chewing on a piece of tough meat. Second, the dressing includes lemon juice so the salmon chemically cooks on your plate while you eat.

Additionally, I use frozen fish from my local Publix supermarket on the basis that fish frozen onboard the fishing boat is fresher than fish that's been sitting in the display case for who knows how long. Most likely that fish was frozen too and then defrosted at the fish market so defrosting it yourself is a better idea. My actual point here is that freezing causes ice crystals to form inside the fish's cells which grow to rupture some of them which acts as a tenderizer. (Or if the process is handled badly, turns the fish into mush.)

So here's what I did as near as I can reconstruct the process:

Salmon Tartare
serves one and a half

1 fillet of skinless, boneless salmon, approximately 1/3 pound
1/2 cucumber
1 T onion (or shallots if you've got them)
2 T dill (more CSA produce used up there)
1 T chives (this could easily be doubled)
2 t capers
1 T lemon juice
2 T mayonnaise (sour cream, yogurt, or the like would work just as well. Or use olive oil for a lighter dish.)
1 medium tomato, peeled and seeded (I normally wouldn't bother with peeling, but the peel really wanted off of this particular tomato. weird, really.)
salt and pepper to taste (I'd recommend going light on the salt during prep and use a finishing salt. That worked really well for me.)

1. Cut salmon into 1/4" dice or just whack at it with a couple knives like you're on Iron Chef until it's nearly a paste. (For some reason many tartare recipes specify putting the salmon back into the refrigerator at this point as if it's going to take you all afternoon to chop your vegetables. I say leave it out for the 15 minutes it takes to finish the dish and let it warm up a little to let the flavors out.)

2. Finely chop the onion, dill, chives and tomato. And the capers if you feel like it.

3. Slice the cucumber paper thin and lay the rounds out to cover a plate.

4. Mix the salmon, chopped vegetables, lemon juice and mayo. Mound on the cucumbers or if you want to get fancy, press into a ring on the center of the plate.

5. Sprinkle with finishing salt. (not pictured as I thought of it only after I had taken a few bites and ruined the presentation) Serve with toast points for extra fanciness.

Very tasty and those who go 'ew' at raw fish probably won't even notice that's what they're eating what with everything else going on.

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