One of my many weaknesses is raw fish. (See: ceviche and this adorable Hello Kitty sushi.) It’s refreshing, filling and obviously, non-greasy. It’s one of those things that literally makes my mouth water upon thinking of it, and I never feel guilty about stuffing my face silly with the stuff. Earlier today, after a shamefully piggy In-n-Out lunch (oh, leave me alone; it’s only $4.02) I thought about what I could do for dinner that wouldn’t make me hate myself. And so, the lightest, tastiest dish that came to mind was tuna tartare.
First, some history: This lovely, simple dish was invented in 1984 by Japanese-born, French-trained Chef Shigefumi Tachibe at Chaya Brasserie in Beverly Hills. (It’s still on the menu!) When some patrons frowned at the thought of raw meat used in the restaurant’s steak tartare, Tachibe grabbed a chunk of fatty tuna and improvised. And raw, fishy goodness was born.
Minimalist as tuna tartare is, there are tons of variations. Tachibe uses a mayonnaise-like sauce. Martha Stewart’s five-ingredient iteration includes Sriracha as well as mayo. Ina Garten uses olive oil, avocado and jalapenos. But the recipe I worked off of came from Washington, D.C.-based 14K via the LA Times. I like my tartare with a little extra kick so I use prepared horseradish or at least a squirt of Sriracha. But if you prefer a mellow recipe, feel free to skip those two ingredients.
Prep time: 25 minutes
1 pound very fresh tuna steak, cut into small dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
Juice of 2.5 cold limes (save the last lime half for… I don’t know, a shot of Patron?)
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish (optional)
- or -
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha (optional)
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds, for garnish
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley, for garnish
Wonton chips, for serving
1. Place the tuna steak in the freezer to let chill for 15-20 minutes. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, Dijon, shallot, lime juice and prepared horseradish or Sriracha.
2. When the tuna is well-chilled, cut into small cubes, about a quarter-inch in thickness. Toss with the sauce. Garnish with black sesame seeds and parsley, and serve immediately with wonton chips. Bask in the lavish compliments from your friends.
What I did differently from 14K: I tend to favor the ingredients that already exist in my fridge. I don’t normally cook with chives but for some reason, I’m always using parsley — so I used that instead of the chives for my green component.
I also added either prepared horseradish or Sriracha instead of wasabi tobiko because they’re much easier to find. The red of the Sriracha makes for pretty presentation. But the horseradish adds that nasally kick. So, I use either one, depending on my mood.
Why freeze the tuna briefly? The resulting firmness makes it easier to cut into those small cubes.