Monday, November 29, 2010

Tuna Tartare with Kaffir Lime Leaves

 The deliciousness of my recent ahi carpaccio prompted me to make this tuna tartare.  Like the carpaccio, this is a dish I've had in the past with beef.  While there is an understandable reticence on the part of most Americans to consume raw beef and raw eggs, steak tartare is a treat that I enjoy.  Using impeccably fresh tuna in place of the beef and yolks from quail eggs, this was every bit as tasty as the ahi carpaccio.

I used a tomato paste can to serve the tartare on a layer of diced avocado.  The raw yolk added another dimension of lusciousness to the tartare.  For those concerned about consuming raw yolk, it could be hard boiled and then grated, or left out altogether. 
We are lucky enough to have a kaffir lime tree that seems to be thriving in our back yard, so getting fresh kaffir lime leaves is not a problem.  Their presence can overtake a dish though, and with something like ahi tartare you want to make sure the lime leaves don't detract from the simple clean taste of the tuna.  I found three leaves for a half pound of fish to be plenty, imparting a tropical citrus taste but not overpowering the other ingredients.

Tuna Tartare with Kaffir Lime Leaves

1/2 pound sashimi grade ahi tuna, small dice
1-2 shallots, depending on size, finely minced
3 whole kaffir lime leaves, midrib removed, finely minced
salt, to taste
avocado, small dice
quail egg yolks (optional)
chili oil (optional)

fried wonton triangles

Lightly toss together the diced tuna, minced shallots, and minced lime leaves.  Using a small tomato paste can, biscuit cutter, or similar cylinder with approximately 1 1/2 inch diameter, place a half inch of lightly salted, diced avocado in the bottom of the cylinder.  Top with 3/4 to 1 inch of tuna mixture.  Press down and push onto a serving plate.  Repeat.  You should have enough to make about four separate tartare towers.  Top each tower with an egg yolk, if desired.  Chili oil may be drizzled around the base of each tower.  Serve with fried wonton triangles.

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