Make Your Own Crudo

Crudo — aka, raw fish combined with different flavorings — can be transportive. It’s irresistible for a starter and quite beautiful as well. Serve just a few bites per person.

Here are basic instructions on making my approach to crudo. I’m guessing at measurements since I made up these recipes. One thing about crudo: all types of fish won’t necessarily be “best” with the same accompaniments, which is why these recipes are a bit different. I’ve experimented with different accompaniments to the fish and imho, these work best with the specific fish mentioned.If I can find fresh mackerel, I’d like to make up a crudo recipe for that.No luck on the mackerel so far.

One of the things I really like about crudo is how the different flavors combine in your mouth in different ways.The flavorings are layered on in a similar way for all the crudo, but the specific finishing salt, citrus, oil or herbs will change.Here are the basic layers, from bottom to top:

Fish

Salt

Maille (or high-end) grain mustard (tuna only)

Diced shallots

(can be made ahead to this point, refrigerated and finished right before serving)

Fresh citrus juice

Oil

Fresh herbs

A very fragrant, exotic white is great with this stuff. A little sweetness is ok. One winner: ’06 Torrontes from Crios de Susana Bilbo.Beltramo’s has it.

With a green salad, a plate of crudo is a terrific light dinner all by itself.

Hamachi Crudo with Tangerine Oil & Shiso

Sushi-grade hamachi* or Kona Kampachi** – trimmed (if necessary) and cut into large-bite-sized pieces

On each piece, put the following items, in this order:

– a few sprinkles of finishing salt – best is red Hawaiian sea salt*** but fleur de sel or something similar will do

– finely diced shallot

– a little fresh Meyer lemon (or regular lemon) juice (maybe a 1-2 teas per piece)

– optional: a tiny bit of grated fresh Meyer lemon zest

– drizzle “tangerine oil” ****across all the pieces

– top with generous amounts of finely shredded fresh green shiso leaf*****

**** There’s an EVOO/tangerine oil mixture with the brand name Agrumato that is available at some gourmet stores. Before I found that, I made a facsimile in which I add a few drops of Boyajian tangerine oil to a high-quality xtra virgin olive oil. The tangerine oil is much too intense to use by itself; add it to the olive oil a little at a time until it’s “tangerine-y” enough for you but not too bitter. I’ve seen the Boyajian oils in gourmet shops, Draeger’s, etc. Store them in the ‘fridge (ditto nut oils).

* Available at Nak’s in Menlo Park (call first; he doesn’t get much; it comes in on Wednesdays and Fridays and is snapped up right away). He gets it from the same sources supplying sushi bars and his wife trims it so it’s perfect and ready to go.If you REALLY luck out, he’ll have hamachi collars available. He only gets 2 a week (he buys just 2 hamachi a week), which are unbelievably wonderful just salted and hot roasted.You can also get this at Kaygetsu in Menlo Park, a great Japanese restaurant, if you’re not into cooking and don’t luck out at Nak’s.

** This is my favorite fish. It’s incredibly delicious and I’m hoping it becomes more available in high-end markets. It’s in the same family as hamachi so tastes quite similar.


*** info here

***** Nak’s has shiso

Ahi Crudo with Hazelnut Oil & 2 Basils

Sushi-grade ahi tuna, trimmed if necessary (look for the pieces with little or no membrane), cut into large-bite-sized pieces. Nak’s has sushi-grade ahi, but I’ve been buying it at Cook’s lately because the quality is just as good and it’s a little less expensive. Steve, the store manager, cuts me a triangle across the top of an ahi roast that has the least membrane.Sometimes, Cook’s gets in “toro,” which is the belly tuna that’s most highly prized. It’s sold as ahi at the same price.That’s optimal, if they have it.

On each large-bite-sized piece of ahi, put the following items, in this order:

– very few sprinkles of finishing salt – best is Murray River pink sea salt but any fine finishing salt would work.

– a little smear of really good grain mustard. Best is Maille (the French stuff), which some gourmet stores (Draeger’s included) sell or buy it online, or use some other good-quality grain mustard

– finely diced shallot

– a little fresh lime juice

– drizzle hazelnut oil* across all the pieces

– top with generous amounts of finely shredded fresh green basil. (Optional), put a tiny bit of shredded opal basil in the middle of the green basil for the color contrast. You can experiment with other basils, too (Thai basil, lemon basil, etc.)

* all hazelnut oils are NOT alike. The best by far, imho, is Jean LeBlanc, made in France and available in gourmet stores (Draeger’s, etc.) and online. The La Tourandelle (domestic) is pretty good, too.

Salmon with Meyer Lemon Oil and Dill

I’ll buy salmon from Pietro at the local farmers market. Otherwise, Cook’s in Menlo Park is the only place I buy seafood for sushi (other than Nak’s for hamachi).Their offerings are just lots fresher and better than elsewhere in this area.(By contrast, I’m totally disgusted with Old Foods, whose fish counter people have lied to me about the freshness of what they sell.) When local king salmon is in season, Cook’s gets it daily directly from the coastal fishermen.Out of season (aka, winter), they offer a wonderful farmed king salmon from BC (Tofino, for those who’ve been up there) that is almost as good as local wild king.And it tastes just as fresh, if you can believe it.

This recipe is just as simple as the others, except it involves an additional step that might not be so easy for those without a juicer.I juice a bunch of fresh dill so I have “dill juice.”(I store the extras in the freezer for the next time I make crudo.) If you don’t have a high-powered juicer, you could probably just process dill with Meyer lemon oil (various brands are available in gourmet stores. My favorite is DaVero, using that instead.If you’ve got dill juice, I mix 1 part juice to 1.5 parts Meyer lemon oil and whisk it like hell.

On each piece, put the following items, in this order:

— very few sprinkles of a smoked sea salt.I like Danish Viking Smoked Salt. It’s critical to use some sort of smoked salt for this recipe

– finely diced shallot

– a little fresh Meyer lemon juice

– drizzle dill/Meyer lemon oil across all the pieces

– top with generous amounts of chopped dill

Experiment with your own crudo recipes and let me know if you create some good ones!

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3 responses to “Make Your Own Crudo

  1. What other fish can be used for crudo?

  2. peninsulaeatz

    I prefer richer fish like tuna, salmon and the like because their stronger flavor and dense texture work better as crudo compared to lighter, milder fish (snapper, cod, etc.). These lighter fish are great in ceviche, however.

  3. I have also had Mackerel in a similar presentation. Mackerel is not for everyone… it is too oily for a lot of people. *Usually called Saba in Japanese although there are other varieties)

    However, if it is very fresh, sushi style (eat it the hour you get it home from the market) it goes well with the Shiso style preparation you mention. Maybe skimp on the oil and use a drizzle of citrus.

    Hmmm… making me hungry.
    dc

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