New Sashimi

July 29, 2007

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I once served this dish to my good friend Mayumi and she said, “Delicious! Not sashimi.” Since then, David, I’ve taken a cue from Chef Matsuhisa and toss the word “new” into the air just before I swat it with the word “sashimi”. This enables you to serve your sashimi anyway you damn well like. It’s not traditional, but, if it’s good enough for Nobu, it’s good enough for Mayumi.

The only ingredient you’ll really need for this dish is top quality fish that has been pulled from the water the day your going to serve the sashimi. For this, you’ll need to go to the source.

The fishermen who run PE and DD Seafood in Riverhead, NY left the harbor at 10 pm Friday night. They steered back in to the harbor with a boat full of tuna, flounder and bluefish around 4 am on Saturday morning. We were clinking glasses of chilled sake and lunching by Noon.

I served the tuna with a summer salad, but you can just dip one end of the fish in a little soy sauce and you’re still a star.

New Tuna Sashimi with Minted Summer Salad
For 2

1/2 pound fresh tuna
1 cup blondkopchen or other heirloom cherry tomato variety
1 Japanese climbing cucumber, seeded and cut into small cubes
1 costata romanesco zucchini, cut into small cubes
1 full-strength jalapeño or 2 serrano peppers, diced
2 scallions sliced thin
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
1/4 cup wild mint, chopped fine
1 teaspoon of olive oil
squeeze of lime
sea salt

Cut the cherry tomatoes into 1/8ths, because she matters, David. Resistance is futile. Place them in a bowl and let them rest while you cut the cucumber and zucchini into small cubes.

Drain the tomatoes and add all other ingredients. Toss gently and allow to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes. Check for salt.

Trim the tuna into a block. Slice it at an angle 1/8th of an inch on the bias.

Mound the summer salad just off center. Arrange 3 or 4 slices of fish to the side of the salad. Dot the plate with a good quality shoyu and garnish with chives. Serve with Ohyama Saké or a chelada.

Soupe de Poisson

July 9, 2007

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I risked life and limb to bring you this recipe David. When the Chef de Cuisine at the restaurant I began my internship caught me taking photographs, he chased me from the kitchen and out the front door with a very sharp knife. It wasn’t the size of the knife that made me run, but the swiftness and fearlessness with which he grabbed it from the poisonnier’s hand.

The knife nicked my shoulder as it whizzed by my ear and landed in the baroque moulding. As I rounded the corner and headed down the hill, I could hear him screaming Putain! Americain! Maricón! I decided to leave Marseilles immediately and head for Antibes. Rumor around the kitchen said Chez Victor’s Soupe de Poisson was so superior it made Chez Knifethrower’s taste like fish piss.

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I found Chez Victor’s Restaurant at Pont Bacon on Cap D’Antibes. It overlooked a beautiful harbor bespeckled with yachts that were humbly luxurious in comparison to the floating excess in St. Tropez and Cannes. A good sign.

I requested a table for one and sampled the carpaccio of sea bass, the soupe, the ravioli de langouste and a bottle of Domain de Mauven Rosé. The meal deserved all four stars. This soupe was magical.

When the bill came, I told the waiter, then the host, then the hostile manager and an even more hostile owner that I didn’t have enough money to pay the bill. When I suggested I indenture myself to pay the bill, George Hamilton very quietly took me by the elbow into the kitchen.

After the kitchen staff worked me over with potato filled towels, I was given an apron, a scrub brush and a tray full of dirty pots. I scrubbed those pots until they glowed, then scrubbed them more. Within a few days, I was fileting dorade along side the poisonnier, pan searing loupe and grinding rascasse in the foodmill.

Mediterranean women go crazy for this ambrosia, David. So do the men, for that matter, if you are so inclined. Don’t forget to start with pastis around 4 pm, after a morning’s sail. A little for the soupe pot, a little more in the glass.

Soupe for 4 or more
Traditionally the red rascasse (scorpion fish) is used for soupe du poisson. Different types of fish will obviously yield different flavors. If you’re not relaxing in the South of France, I would suggest you use a small white local fish like butterfish, sole, flounder, sea bass, weakfish or snapper, depending on what coast you’re romancing the stove. If you’re sailing in the mediterranean, I suggest you anchor your yacht off Cap d’Antibes and submarine dive with your trident for the rascasse and other small rockfish.

1 kilo rockfish, gutted and trimmed
1 kilo white onion
4 cloves garlic
3 large ripe tomatoes

Saute the whole fish in olive oil with onion, garlic and tomatoes for 20 minutes to achieve a lovely marmelade. Add 1 litre of mineral water or if you really want to achieve flavor, 1 litre of the previous day’s fish stock.

Then add
2 cloves
2 pinches of saffron
2 potatoes cut in half
1/2 cup fresh tomato paste
1 fresh cayenne pepper, seeds removed
1/2 cup pastis
A bit of tarragon
1 bay leaf

Simmer for 20 minutes then pass through a food mill from course to fine 3 times. Discard the bone mush. Return the soupe to the pot with an additional bay leaf and simmer for 10 minutes. Add more pastis and 1 tsp harissa.

The Rouille
4 cloves garlic
1 pinch of saffron in 1 Tbs hot fish stock
1 whole cayenne pepper, seeds removed
2 egg yolks
1 boiled potato
Sea Salt
1 cup of olive oil
In a mortar, crush the garlic, cayenne and potato. Whip the egg yolks with the saffron and add it to the paste. Blend the oil and finish with salt.

The Crouton
Preheat the oven to 250. Cut a day old baguette in thin slices. Toss with olive oil and fresh herbs as available. Toast 20 minutes per side.

Serve
Ramekins filled with whole cloves of garlic
Baskets of Croutons
Bowls of Rouille

Ladle the Soupe in deep bowls. Rub the garlic on the crouton, top with rouille and float in the soupe 3 at a time. Try not to act like a neanderthal.

   
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