Getting Crudo

Love raw fish but getting tired of soy sauce? The Italian equivalent of sashimi — called “crudo,” which means “raw”— is a perfect alternative.

Crudo comes in as many variations as there are Italian restaurants. A dish of crudo rests on three pillars — sashimi-grade fish, a tangy dressing of either lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, and the best olive oil you’ve got. Then you add various “decorations” like minced arugula, shaved parmesan, etc. As you can see from the above photo, it’s also a knock-out to serve to a date or at a small dinner party, as its beauty knows no limits.

I’ve found the best fish to use to be albacore, ahi tuna, halibut or scallops. Yellowtail works nicely too. However, it would be a nice way to serve raw oysters or clams. Or substitute shaved raw beef for a lovely carpaccio.

The following recipe tells you how to make exactly what’s in the picture above. You can do your own riffs — I sometimes add thin slices of grapefruit, dollops of pureed fava bean, whatever is good and in season and that complements the sweetness of the fish, sourness of the citrus (or vinegar) and silkiness of the olive oil. For an artistic flourish, add a drizzle of ebony kecap manis — your friends will forgive you its Indonesian origins for its indescribable sweet, anise goodness. (And when they ask what that sweet black stuff is, just shrug and say, “Dunno.”)

Albacore Crudo

To serve 4-6:

1/2 lb albacore, sashimi-grade
12-15 ripe cherry tomatoes, cut in half
extra virgin olive oil
meyer lemon
1/4 cup arugula, cut into chiffonade (little, long strips)
1/4 cup shaved parmasan
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Maldon sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Place the sliced garlic in a little pan with enough olive oil just to cover. Head over medium until garlic begins to sizzle, and turn to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is crisp and golden. Remove and drain on paper towel.

Arrange your serving plates. (Note: for a “communal” crudo experience, you can use one large platter, and guests can all spoon bites from the platter. This is a very dramatic and beautiful way to serve it if you have a large, beautiful platter.) Make sure albacore is very cold (it helps to put it in the freezer for 20 minutes before you begin). Slice it thinly, and arrange slices in random patterns evenly over your plates. Place cherry tomato halves artfully around the fish. Sprinkle arugula chiffonade over each plate. Squeeze a little lemon over each, then drizzle with a generous drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle shaved parmesan over each plate, then a little Maldon salt (or kosher salt, if you ain’t got Maldon). Lastly, top with a twist of black pepper, and then sprinkle a little crispy garlic over each crudo.

Wine suggestion: a crisp pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc

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