Tartare de saumon

Salmon tartare

This tartare of salmon incorporates avocado, shallots, cilantro and crushed coriander seeds for a subtle blend of flavors enhanced by a lime-olive oil dressing. It makes a fresh and palate-pleasing starter or can stand on its own as a lunch dish.

The key is to use ultra-fresh salmon — called sushi-fresh in the States. Have the fishmonger remove the skin and bones. This makes preparation a breeze.

For the coriander, crush the seeds using a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. This will give you maximum flavor — pre-ground or powdered coriander is to be avoided! And wait until just before serving to mix in the dressing. Otherwise it will ‘cook’ the salmon, lightening its beautiful rosy color and making the flavor less fresh.

Serve the tartare in mounds, on its own or embellished with smaller mounds of chopped avocado, shallots and lime. In restaurants, this dish is often served in perfectly round mounds, flattened off at the top. To achieve a similar effect, use a wide glass as a cutter.

The quantities below will serve 2 people.

3/4 pound (350 g) ultra-fresh salmon fillets (two fillets)
1 medium-to-large shallot
1 avocado
2 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro

1 tsp. freshly ground coriander seeds
1/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1 lime
2 tsp. olive oil, or more to taste

Slice the salmon lengthwise into strips about 1/4 inch (6 mm) wide. Lay the strips on your cutting board and slice them crosswise about the same width. Transfer to a bowl.

Finely chop the shallot. Add 1 tbsp. to the salmon and reserve the rest. Peel and chop the avocado into smallish cubes. Add half to the salmon and reserve the rest.

Add the cilantro, crushed coriander, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. If serving later, refrigerate the salmon at this point.

Make the dressing: Cut the lime in half and squeeze one half into a small bowl, for about 2 tsp. of juice. Add the olive oil. Stir to blend.

When ready to serve, stir the dressing into the salmon. You may not need to use all of it — taste and decide.

Pile the tartare onto plates in mounds. To  create perfect rounds, use an empty glass about 3 inches (8 cm) wide as a cutter. When you lift off the glass, remove any extraneous bits of tartare from around the sides of your round.

Decorate with cilantro leaves and, if you like, add little mounds of chopped shallot and avocado and some tiny slices of lime. Serve with a chilled white wine. Serves 2.

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