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Italian Fish Crudo

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Yellowfin tuna crudo with basil

Yellowfin tuna crudo with basil

Hank Shaw
Crudo is the Italian version of sashimi: Raw fish at the peak of freshness, dressed simply with olive oil and lemon. It is a way to highlight your finest quality fish. If you do not have top-quality ingredients to make this, don't make it. I use tuna here, but you can use any fish you might see at a sushi bar: A list of these fish is linked below. This recipe serves 4-6 as an appetizer.

Prep Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of sushi-grade fish, such as seabass, tuna or halibut
  • 1 quartered lemon (Meyer lemon if possible)
  • 1/4 cup of your finest olive oil
  • Fleur de Sel, or another top-quality sea salt
  • Basil or mint leaves, for garnish

Preparation:

Buy a piece of fish you can later cut, across the grain of the meat, into squares or rounds of at least two inches across. You may need to buy more fish than you need to get the presentation right. Use the excess in either a tartare or a stir-fry.

Wrap the fish tightly in plastic and put it in the freezer for an hour or more. After an hour, check to see if it is hard -- but not solid. When it reaches that state, take it out and get your sharpest knife.

Slice the fish across the grain as thin as you can. I shoot for a cut of about 1/8 inch. Do not pound it to make it flatter. That's carpaccio, not crudo.

Coat the slices in the olive oil and set in a sealed container in the fridge over a bed of ice for at least 20 minutes, or up to an hour.

To serve, take the fish out of the fridge. On the plate, pour some olive oil (which you did not use in the marinade) on the plate and arrange the slices over it. Each guest should get a quarter of the lemon and a tiny bowl of the sea salt -- or you can salt the fish right before service.

I like to arrange the basil leaves in a pattern with the fish, but you could slice them fine and top the fish with them. The key with crudo is for everything to look good, but be simple -- don't gunk this up with too many ingredients.

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