Originally the term tartare described dishes that were covered in breadcrumbs, grilled and then served with a rich and seasoned sauce. More recently tartare has lended itself to describe a sauce or a raw meat dish, such as beef tartare. I have used the term to describe this raw fish dish.
This dish was inspired by the produce first, and the harmony and technique second. The lure of the glistening barramundi at the fish market was too much to resist. Barramundi has a very earthy taste and therefore I wanted an opposing yet harmonious flavour with it. The bite of the citrus counteracts the earthiness of the fish, but also has the freshness that compliments it.
Ultimately, by creating a tartare I have kept the wonderful flavour of the fish whilst (hopefully!) bringing through the other flavours without overpowering the fish itself.
I love to buy the fish whole and clean it at home. For Barramundi I go in at the top by slicing down either side of the backbone, snip out the backbone and then gut it, remove the gills and eyes, and then pin-bone. Then I can stuff the fish and cook it whole, or cut out the individual fillets, as for this recipe.
Citrus Fresh Barramundi TartarePrint
- ■ about a 800g barramundi | Skin and fillet the fish. This yields about 200g of white flesh.
- ■ ½ peeled Granny Smith apple | Finely diced.
- ■ ½ tsp. Dijon mustard | A quality French Dijon required here.
- ■ 3 tsp. white onion | Very finely diced – white onion is sweet and less intrusive than red or brown.
- ■ 1 tsp. ginger | Fresh ginger minced to a paste.
- ■ 1 lime | Squeezed juice from fresh lime.
- ■ a pinch smoked sea salt | I love the smoky subtlety – I use Maldon. Unsmoked sea salt is fine.
- ■ 2 tsp. fresh dill | Finely chopped.
- ■ 1 tbsp. olive oil | Light virgin olive oil that’s not too overpowering.
- ■ season black pepper | Freshly cracked.
- ■ 6 sorrel leaves | A beautiful intense citrus burst when chewed – more than just a garnish.
- ■ a few baby fennel fronds | Separate in to smaller fronds – use as a garnish.
- ■ a pinch smoked paprika | A nice finish to the dish.
Ensure that there is no bone or cartilage in the Barramundi fillet. As we are using raw fish any cartilage will have a chewy texture which will not bode well – and as for bones… Cut the Barramundi fillet in to small cubes making sure that they are not too fine such as to end up as fish paste.
Add to the fish the apple, mustard, white onion, ginger, smoked sea salt and dill. Mix well, but with care, until the mixture is homogenous. Then add the olive oil and black pepper, and stir till mixed in. The ingredients should stick together, but also break away easily. This is really important for the textural feel in the mouth and the look on the plate.
Put the tartare in a food stacker, and compress lightly. Turn out on to a plate and garnish with the sorrel, fennel fronds and smoked paprika.
The technique in this dish is all about the preparation – I find it’s so important to treat every dice or cut with care and precision, as it will have a profound influence on the texture and overall enjoyment.