Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Salmon Tartare with Pickled Cucumbers, Red Onions and Capers

An amuse bouche usually consists of a small bite-size treat, courtesy of the chef, that opens up your palate for the meal to come. They are sometimes incredibly intricate, sometimes very simple, and are meant to showcase the restaurant's culinary vision. One of the stations at the French Culinary Institute's restaurant comes up with a different amuse bouche every day. When my turn arrived, I came up with this concoction, a fresh way to get your appetite going on a warm sunny day. The tricky part was to plate quickly as the customers ordered their food. The salmon had to be mixed with the marinade at the last minute to ensure that the salmon would maintain its vivid orange color, so we rapidly found ourselves plating a dozen tartares at a time. It was worth it though, as the plates looked beautiful and the salmon turned out tasty, yet simple. You can definitely serve this as an appetizer as I did with the leftovers.

Since then, I have graduated, and been adorned with a proper chef's hat! The real professional kitchen life will come soon, but I am for now savoring a bit of relaxing time after an intense 6 months of training to become a chef.


Salmon fillet
A handful of capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
One diced red onion
2 tablespoons yuzu juice
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/4 lemon, juice and zest
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup of parmesan
Half cucumber, sliced very thin
Chives, to garnish

Place the cucumber in a bowl. Add the rice wine vinegar and yuzu. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Leave for at least an hour in the fridge so that the cucumbers get a nice pickly taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grate parmesan and spread on a silk pad sheet set on top of a sheet pan. If you don't have one, you can use parchment paper. Spread the cheese on an even layer making a rough rectangular shape. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Break into pieces and reserve.

Dice the salmon and place it into a bowl. Remove any gray areas in the flesh, as well as the skin. Cover and place in the fridge. In a separate bowl, mix the red onions, capers, lemon juice and zest. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once you are ready to serve, add the caper and onion mixture to the salmon. Do not do this too much in advance or the salmon will change color with the acidity of the lemon.

Place a mound of salmon tartare on the plate, and serve with cucumber, a piece of parmesan and a piece of chive as you please. Enjoy!

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