Appetizer – Tuna Tartar

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 14,072
    Chef Cathal Armstrong demonstrates how to prepare the appetizer Tuna Tartar.

    Cathal Armstrong: My name is Cathal Armstrong. I am the owner of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria in Virginia. Today, we are going to make a beautiful three-course spring menu. The first dish is going to be Tuna Tartar. I am going to make it with a little spicy habanero marinade.

    The tools and the ingredients that we are going to use to prepare a Tuna Tartar are a very sharp knife, little sliced scallions, some bliss maple syrup. Its a one full Bourbon Barrel aged maple syrup. This is habanero sauce, a little micro-mizuna for garnish. Just a little fresh coconut milk, two eggs, a little bit of salt. Of course, beautiful fresh, this is bluefin tuna. You will need a couple of bowls; one to keep the fish on ice and one to make our marinade. Then we are going to finish the dish with just a little bit of hazelnut oil. So the first step in our dish is to make the marinade. I will use for this about one part habanero sauce, this is super, super spicy, to about five parts maple syrup. The syrup that I would like to use is bliss maple syrup, its a Bourbon Barrel aged 1++ quality maple syrup. So we want to use a good amount of that to keep it nice and sweet and just to help balance out the spiciness of that habanero sauce.

    Then just a nice splash of the hazelnut oil. You can, of course, replace this with any other kind of oil. The only one that I would really stay away from is olive oil because olive oil has such a distinctive flavor that it would kind of clash a little bit with the spicy sauce. So then all we have to do here is just mix the little marinade together. Its ready to go.

    The next step in our dish is to dice the tuna and I have a beautiful bluefin tuna. This was just caught yesterday, just off the coast of Florida. You want to make sure that you buy the freshest fish. You are going to have to make a little bit of a relationship with your fishmonger to get fresh tuna. Its a little difficult with tuna to tell whether its fresh or whether its not fresh just because we cant see the gills. The best tell-tale sign is is the smell of the tuna. So if it has no smell, then you know its fresh. It shouldnt smell fishy at all.

    I have just cut it, this is the part closest to the head which is going to give us the least amount of sinew, which is ideal for Tuna Tartar. Then I am going to dice it into a small dice. I have got to make sure my knife is very sharp to make sure that you dont cut yourself. Generally, with a dull knife, you are going to use more pressure which will cause you more likely to cut yourself or hurt yourself.

    So we will just dice the tuna into nice small pieces. Then you see how we use our fingers on our spare hand as a guard to make sure that we dont cut ourselves. This takes a little bit of practice, I have a few years of doing this. So take your time, practice slowly. Once we have diced the tuna, I am going to put it back over ice to keep it nice and cold while we work on the rest of the dish.

    So the next step in our dish is to make the sauce. This sauce is coconut cream, is what I call it. Its a multiplied sauce which means we are going to make sure that we evenly distribute the fat. The advantage of the coconut cream with this particular dish is it will help to takeaway that super spiciness of the habanero sauce. So you get that contrast in textures of a spicy, spicy sauce and then a cool sauce that just refreshes the palate a little bit.

    So its very simple. In the blender, I am going to add one whole egg and one egg yolk. Of course, we can save the egg white for another use. So you can make maranges or we can make killer macaroons with it. Then I will add just about one cup of coconut milk. This is just fresh coconut milk in a can, you can buy at your grocery store. Then we will turn the blender on just for a minute. So then I am going to use canola oil which is a neutral oil. It has very little flavor, so it wont interfere with the flavor of the coconut milk while we add it into our emulsion.

    So I just carefully turn on the blender and gradually, add the canola oil. So you just add the oil in a steady stream about one-and-a-half cup, until we get a nice creamy texture from our coconut cream. You see I use a squeeze bottle for this, it will help to keep the flow of the oil at a steady pace. Then once its nice and creamy in the blender, we are ready to go. So then I just want to season my coconut cream with just a little bit of salt. Make sure everything is nicely seasoned.

    Okay, so now we are ready to assemble our dish. Into our tuna, I am going to add once sliced scallion. Spring onions and scallion is all the same thing. Then we will add a little bit of salt. Salt you want to use to taste, but dont be shy with it. It helps the enzymes in your palate. Then just a little bit of the marinade. Again, we will do this to our own taste. Then just mix that nice and gently together. You can see that it makes a nice and beautiful and shiny, and it gives a good taste. Delicious!

    So to present the dish, I will take a little bit of our coconut cream. I am going to just put that on to the plate like that. I am going to make a little pull of the spoon, just to make a nice, pretty presentation. Then I use a ring mold, this is a cookie cutter. You can choose any size you like, depending on how much tuna you want to give your guests. We will just put that into the ring mold. Then I just clutch down the tuna with a spoon. I am going to garnish with a little micro-mizuna.

    Here we have a beautiful Tuna Tartar with coconut cream. Coming up next, we are going to make pan roasted monkfish with some fava beans and delicious mussels and bacon.