Serve salmon tartare as an elegant appetizer or first course. Have the tartare take center stage on an oversized plate with an artful flourish of paper-thin cucumber slices strewn about. A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a scattering of minced chives, and a dusting of fleur de sel make this a showstopper for a sophisticated dinner party, perfect for a New Year’s Eve party.
Suggested wine: Champagne; domestic sparkling wine; Chablis; Austrian grüner veltliner
Buy your salmon from a reputable fishmonger, making sure it is very fresh. In fact, the best kind of salmon to use for curing or eating raw is salmon that has been flash—frozen at sea. The freshly caught salmon is put on ice immediately and then sold to a “floating processor” vessel at sea, where the fish is gutted and flash–frozen. Any parasites in the flesh of the fish are killed when the fish is frozen just below 0°F for seven days.
Fleur de sel is an aromatic salt that has been evaporated from seawater. It has large flaky crystals and a puré briny flavor and aroma. I buy either fleur de sel from France’s Brittany coast or from the Camargue region near Provence.
Removing Pin Bones
Run your fingertips along the flesh side of the fillet until you feel the pin bones. Using either clean needle-nose pliers (I keep a pair in the kitchen precisely for this use) or fish tweezers, grasp the end of each bone and pull it straight out and away from the flesh to remove it. If you try to pull them upwards or backwards it tends to tear the flesh
SERVES6 AS AN APPETIZER
Total Timeunder 1 hour
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cocktail Party, Cooking for a date, Formal Dinner Party
Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free
Taste and Textureherby, rich, salty, savory, tart, umami
- 1 center-cut salmon fillet (8 ounces), skin and pin bones removed (see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- ¾ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- Pinch or 2 of freshly ground white pepper
- 1 English cucumber
- Fleur de sel for sprinkling (see Note)
Using a very sharp knife, cut the salmon into ¼-inch dice. (Do not use a food processor, as it damages the texture of the fish, making it coarse and mushy.) Place the salmon in a medium bowl. Gently fold in the 1 tablespoon chives, the shallots, parsley, and lemon juice. Stir in the 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving.
Cut the cucumber in half crosswise. Cut each half into long, paper-thin slices. Set aside on a plate, covered, until ready to serve.
To assemble, using 6 large salad or dinner plates, scatter several slices of cucumber around each plate in a random, artful way. Leave the center of each plate open. Spoon approximately ¼ cup tartare into a mound in the center of each plate. Drizzle olive oil over the cucumber slices, garnish with chives, and sprinkle with a bit of fleur de sel. Serve immediately.
2005 Diane Morgan