Here’s a great recipe I created for my upcoming Wine Manifesto (you’ll be hearing about this soon!). I developed it to go with elegant Champagnes that have yeasty-toasty character…but I’ve been making it at a million dinner parties now that I’ve got it! It is easy, elegant…a quick path to modern three-star food coming out of your kitchen! You will need to go to a Japanese grocery to put this one together…and make sure to find a super-elegant smoked salmon, such as a good Scottish one.
⅔ lb. raw yellowtail
6 raw oysters, shucked
dashi powder (see NOTE)
furikake (see NOTE)
4 stalks lemongrass
2 teaspoons pickled ginger (gari)
½ cup hazelnut oil
½ cup grapeseed oil (or other neutral vegetable oil)
6 very thin, wide slices of fine smoked salmon
⅓ cup finely minced chive
1. Prepare the filling. Chop together the yellowtail and oysters into a coarse tartare. The flavoring ratios are up to you, but remain subtle: a sprinkle of dashi powder, a small shower of furikake, a smear of wasabi, tiny drizzles of soy sauce and sesame oil. The tastes should enliven the fish but not overwhelm it. Keep cold.
2. Cut away most of each lemongrass stalk, leaving only the thin, tender, chewable central portion. Chop this portion finely (this will yield just a teaspoon or so of useable lemongrass). Place this teaspoon in blender jar or Vita-Prep. Add the pickled ginger.
3. Prepare the mayonnaise. Add one whole egg to the blender jar, along with the yolks of the other two (save the two whites for another use). Turn motor on, and run at medium-high speed until the lemongrass and ginger are pulverized. Begin adding the two oils in a thin stream, until all is added—and the mayo in the jar is thickened and yellow. The consistency should be that of heavy cream. Season to taste.
4. Lay out on the kitchen counter all six slices of smoked salmon. Divide the reserved hamachi mixture among the slices, placing the tartare right in the center of each slice. Fold the bundles so that the tartare is complete enclosed; they should look like smoked salmon packages.
5. Place each bundles at the center of a wide-shallow bowl (like a pasta bowl). Pour the mayo all around the bundles, and top bundles with chopped chive. Serve immediately.
NOTE: Dashi powder is the world’s best powdered “bouillon,” which yields cups of hot broth that really taste like Japanese soup stock. But the powder, as in this case, can also be used as a seasoning. Furikake is shredded nori, available in plastic containers, usually flavored with other Japanese ingredients (sesame seeds, bits of dried fish, etc.). It’s great as a topping for Japanese dishes, but also works perfectly as a seasoning in this tartare.