Food and wine matching from the Roving Sommelier.
This is a quick and simple recipe from my own repertoire, which I love to make from time to time. It takes no more than 30 minutes to prepare this dish and makes for a perfect appetiser/fish course as part of a dinner party or a stand-alone lunch or supper dish. Moreover, you can season it as ‘spicy’ as you wish to suit your own taste buds and use different types of fish – whichever are your favourite preferences. When I was in New Zealand, Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula (due south of the city of Christchurch) is considered to be a great source and well-known for its top quality salmon. However, just ask your local fishmonger for whatever’s best and most fresh and purchase whatever you can afford. With this recipe, I’m using the ‘classic’ salmon, but, for instance, halibut, mackerel and tuna are also perfect alternatives for tartare dishes.
300g salmon fillet, skinned and boned (ask your fishmonger to do this)
6 pitted green olives, roughly chopped (optional ingredient)
Zest of one lemon
Half clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh torn basil (you could also use finely chopped tarragon)
Tiny pinch fennel seeds, lightly toasted then crushed
Sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons top quality extra virgin olive oil
Cut the salmon into 1cm dice by hand with a sharp knife. If you put meat or fish in the food processor to make your tartare it will come out too blitzed. You looking for nice, neat cubes not a ‘mush’.
Mix gently with all the other ingredients and seasonings. Serve immediately with crusty bread (or melba toast, if you’re ‘posh’) and tossed salad.
Wine suggestion – 2006 Mountford Estate Chardonnay, Waipara, South Island, New Zealand - For me, a flavoursome, yet elegantly-balanced Chardonnay is the perfect wine for a fish tartare. Owing to salmon’s natural oiliness and firm flesh, I believe you need a powerful wine which also delivers on texture, mouthfeel and has a good long mouth-watering finish. On the whole, New Zealand Chardonnays tend to be well-defined and fruity, (made with all the traditional techniques) yet with sufficient use of oak and complexity to stand up to and not overpower fish dishes. Alternatively, I would suggest a white Burgundy, such as a Chassagne-Montrachet from a good domaine (e.g Niellon, Jean-Noel Gagnard or Ramonet) for or a more ‘traditional’ palate. The aromatic nuances found in the wine will also match the flavours present in the fennel seed and herbs.
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