Certainly no self-respecting, millenial cookbook that encourages gustatory indulgence would be complete without a good recipe for tuna tartare, which, by 1997, appeared on virtually every enterprising menu in Manhattan. Each chef has particular ideas about the preparation. Some feel that the flavor and texture of minced cucumber marries well with the diced raw tuna; others turn to minced tart apples, onions, scallions, even horseradish or orange zest or wasabi. During my stints as a restaurant reviewer, I feel as if I tried them all. This is my spin. You’ll want to use lightly oiled metal rings, 2" or more high and about 3" wide, to shape the tartare into an attractive cake. Prepare and measure all ingredients except the constantly chilled sushi-grade tuna before beginning the recipe, and serve as soon as humanly possible. And be careful with that toasted sesame oil, or you’ll taste it all night long.

2 scallions, white and light green parts only, very finely minced—
a little over a tablespoon
3 tablespoons peeled, seeded, minced cucumber
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon bottled green peppercorns, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon nampla (fish sauce)
1 teaspoon vermouth
droplets of toasted sesame oil (optional, but use very sparingly)
1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise (or 2 fresh egg yolks, if you utterly trust
the supplier)
1 lb. "sushi-quality" yellowfin or ahi tuna, finely diced at the last minute

In a roomy, chilled, non-reactive bowl, mix thoroughly everything except the tuna. Chill, covered, until ready to serve the tartare. Then carefully dice the tuna, add it to the mixture, and stir thoroughly. Use a metal ring, lightly oiled inside with peanut oil, and fill with the mixture to form a cake on each oversized serving plate.


toasted sesame seeds
attractively chopped, peeled Granny Smith apple
(brushed with lemon juice to prevent discoloration)
a little stack of diced, peeled, seeded cucumber
chicory leaves
paper-thin lemon slices
assorted sprouts—bean, alfalfa, radish, broccoli
a few high quality or home-made potato chips, stabbed into the top
of the tartare
finely chopped chives, with a few chive spears strewn across the plate

Yield: 2 large portions, or four appetizer portions

Copyright © 1999 - 2007 by Tom Steele. All rights reserved.