Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Salmon Tartare

I'd never had salmon tartare before, so this dished just barely registered on the 'I'm a little unsure about this one' meter. I've eaten plenty of raw salmon in sushi, so that wasn't the issue. For some reason the different preparation was just a bit foreign to me. But hey, that's what we're here for, right? It's pretty incredibly easy to make once you have the ingredients for this dish. If you don't mind chopping that is. And then chopping some more. And then some more. Needless to say, you're going to want a good knife for this.

Let's get (not exactly) cooking. You're going to need some salmon (obviously), hard-boiled eggs, chives (home grown greatness here), shallot, lemon, red onion, and creme fraiche. The recipe also calls for capers, which I really really do not like at all, so they were left out.

First up was cleaning the salmon. This step is optional if you bought pre-prepared sushi grade salmon like I did. Then it was time to chop, chop, chop. I chopped for probably five straight minutes, and easily could have gone for another five minutes if it wasn't for the fact that I was getting bored. Here's how far I got:

I transferred the salmon to a bowl and mixed in some shallot, salt, half the chives, and olive oil.

With the salmon ready to go it was time to move onto the garnishes. Garnishes is kind of the wrong word, because there is probably twice as much garnish as there is salmon. It's not the main ingredient though, so call what you whatever you want. I'm going to use garnish.

The first step was to chop up the hard boiled eggs. The direction here is to separate the yolks and whites, push each through a grater, and then chop it up. The grater apparently allows for more uniform pieces. I'm not sure the extra time is really worth it. The eggs were followed by chopping the red onion into 1/8" squares and mincing up the chives.

The instructions for plating this dish seemed to me to be a lot more complex than they needed to be. The outside ring, which will make sense in a minute, was supposed to be assembled by layering the egg yolks, then onions, then egg whites, then the chives. I went a little crazy and just mixed it all together at the start. Why do something four times when you can do it once and nobody in the world will know? Except for you guys now I guess...

So here is what I started with. Looks great, right?

And here was I made out of it. I didn't have the requisite ring mold to make the salmon nice and circular. Actually, I still don't have it. I just made something that was almost circular. For a minute I was afraid the oblong shape would cause it to not taste like salmon anymore, but lucky for me that was not the case.

I finished it off with a little scoop of creme fraiche, which really did make a difference, in a good way. It was really good, the two of us ate almost all of it. That's saying a lot, since there was probably close to 1.5 lbs of food on the plate. The salmon was pretty fatty (you can kind of see in the first picture) and that led to a slightly odd, less than appetizing color. Hopefully next time I can get some leaner fish, but it's kind of hard to find a lot of sushi grade choices around here. I'd make this again for sure, not only because it's easy, but also because it's relatively simple to make.

Most of the discussion while we were eating it centered around whether or not tartare would be an acceptable hors d'oeuvres at a party. It's certainly tasty, but would you trust your host enough to eat raw fish at their house? Let me know in the comments.

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