Hamachi Carpaccio with Piquillo peppers and Grilled lemon
Hamachi is my favorite fish to eat raw-buttery, rich, and sexy. Similar to bluefin tuna, hamachi is a migratory fish sometimes called amberjack or buri; its golden flesh is favored by Japanese sushi chefs. This crudo is the result of one I ate in Barcelona, where the Spanish chefs are influenced by all other Mediterranean cooking. Let's face it, in Europe, as elsewhere, everyone borrows from everyone else. In Barcelona, I had a similar dish with a firm white fish, not hamachi, and to be honest, it was the grilled lemon that got me going. When I arrived home, I promptly looked for the best hamachi I could find and created this recipe. You can substitute sushi-grade tuna with equally good results.
Piquillo peppers are imported from Spain, where they are grown, wood-roasted, and then packed in jars. They are increasingly available in our supermarkets and specialty stores, although I suggest you read the label carefully to make sure they are the real deal. Jarred pimientos are an adequate substitute, but are not nearly as good in this recipe as piquillos.
About the wine:
Smoky piquillo peppers, orange, mint, and tomato all in one dish poses quite a challenge when choosing a wine. With the richness of the fish, a white with some weight is called for, and we choose a Tocai Friulano from Friuli. Our friends from New York, the Bastianich family, make a superb example at their winery in the region formally known as Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
Total Timeunder 15 minutes
Taste and Texturebuttery
- 1 lemon, plus juice of ½ lemon
- ½ cup olive oil
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- ½ cup finely diced plum tomatoes
- ½ cup finely diced piquillo peppers or pimientos (see Note)
- 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- Fleur de sel
- Cracked black pepper
- 1 pound sushi-grade hamachi or yellowtail
Set a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot (or heat a countertop grill).
Cut the lemon into ½-inch slices. Pour the olive oil into a shallow bowl and dip the lemon slices in it to coat both sides. Cook the lemon slices in the hot skillet for about 30 seconds, or until lightly charred on both sides. Remove and set aside.
In a nonreactive bowl, mix the lemon juice, orange zest, tomatoes, peppers, basil, chives, and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Slice the hamachi ½ inch thick and arrange on 4 plates. Spoon the tomato-pepper mixture over the hamachi and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving. Season to taste lightly with salt and pepper and garnish each plate with charred lemon slices.
2007 Rick Tramonto