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Raw Fish Is Delish!

If you are worried about embarrassing yourself in front of your date, or even worse, a client, because you do not know the difference between the terms carpacchio, ceviche or crudo on a restaurant menu, don’t fear, the answers are here.  Included in this post is basic info on some of the most popular restaurant options containing raw or partially cooked fish or seafood.  After reading this, you will be able to navigate a restaurant menu like a pro.  Not to mention using foodie lingo in conversations. Recipes containing raw fish or seafood can be prepared at home with great success, as long as the freshest and highest quality fish or shellfish is used. Be sure to read the post How To Handle Raw Fish before trying these recipes at home.

Sashimi originated in Japan and is one of the simplest ways to serve raw fish or seafood.  Sashimi consists of sliced raw fish – it is therefore not marinated like Ceviche and it is served with minimal garnishes and without a sauce.  Fish typically used for sashimi include salmon, tuna, yellow tail and halibut, to name a few.  Also squid, prawns, clams, scallops and abelone.   Nigiri is essentially sashimi that is served over bite-sized sushi rice shapes. The word “sushi” which is often used incorrectly as an umbrella term to describe raw fish or seafood, actually only refers to the cooked short-grained rice which is used in Japanese cuisine.

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Carpaccio can refer to either raw fish or beef, with beef sirloin or tuna being the most popular.  It was invented in 1950 by Giuseppe Cipriani from Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy.  He originally prepared the dish for the countess Amalia Nani Mocenigo when he learned that the doctors had recommended that she eat raw meat. The beef was served with lemon, olive oil, and white truffle oil or Parmesan cheese.  The term is also used for thinly sliced vegetables, e.g. carpaccio of baby marrow, squash, etc.  Carpaccio is typically served as an appetizer with lemon or vinegar, olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper.

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Poke – a bowl of cubed raw fish, sometimes served over rice.  Most commonly it’s dressed with soy sauce and sesame oil, but it’s not uncommon to see Japanese mayonnaise, wasabi, hot sauce (often Sriracha), onions, avocado, or basically anything else in a poke bowl.  Read more about Poke Bowls here.

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Tartare” or “À la tartare” actually means “served with tartar sauce“, a mayonnaise or aioli-based sauce of French origin.  The sauce typically has a rough consistency due to the addition of diced gherkins. It is often used as a condiment with seafood dishes.   What is now known as “steak tartare” today used to be called steack à l’Americaine, a French dish consisting of minced raw beef seasoned with a raw egg yolk, finely chopped onion, Worcestershire sauce and spices.  It used to be served with tartar sauce on the side. The tartar sauce has fallen away though. The term “tartare” refers to a mixture of chopped raw meat or fish, mixed with seasonings and condiments. Steak tartare and Tuna tartare are the most popular.  Tuna Tartare is typically served as an appetizer on a cracker, crostini or slices of cucumber.  Try this recipe for Tuna Tartare.

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Crudo literally means “raw” in Italian. Basically all you need to make crudo is raw fish, olive oil, and a splash of lemon. Seeing that only three ingredients is needed to make crudo, the quality of the ingredients is very important. The ingredients should complement the natural flavour of the fish, rather that flavour the fish.  The aim should therefore be not to drown the flavour of the fish.

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Ceviche consists of slices or cubes of raw fish or seafood marinated in citrus juice. While marinating the citric acid from the juice slowly causes the protein to coagulate or “cook”. The result is raw fish with the opaque appearance and firm texture of cooked fish.  The type of fish or seafood used, the type of citrus and garnishes used, as well as the length of marination vary considerably from country to country.  Semi-firm white-fleshed ocean fish like sea bass, striped bass, grouper, sole or flounder can be used. Stay away from oily fish like mackerel, sardines, tuna or bluefish. Shrimp, squid and scallops can also be used. Try this recipe for Ceviche.

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Gravlax is a traditional Scandinavian dish that involves rubbing a fresh salmon fillet with sugar and salt, covering it with fresh dill, wrapping it in foil and allowing it to cure for several days at a low temperature. During this time the enzymes in the salmon change the structure of the flesh, which becomes more translucent and very tender. It should be kept cool and eaten within a few days. It is normally served with a sweet mustard-dill sauce.  Try this recipe for Gravlax.

If you do not feel comfortable tackling (excuse the pun!) raw fish recipes on your own, be sure to book a culinary lesson for yourself or a group of friends and learn first hand how to create drool-worthy meals.

Sources: www.fitday.com; www.foodrepublic.com; www.huffingtonpost.com