Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ahi Tuna Tartare Napoleon: A Towering Feast

One of the prettiest and most refreshing salads to make during the hot summer months is this delicious and beautifully plated Tuna Tartare Napoleon. By simply rethinking the arrangement of ingredients into a vertical architectural style, can transform a humble salad from ordinary to absolutely senstaional. Although you can use fancy ring molds to create the towers, I cheat and use empty frozen juice concentrate cans with both ends cut off, however any empty can will do. The layers of salad ingredients are gently spooned into the mold, and using a round object that is slightly narrower than the cylinder, like a tall glass or plastic squeeze bottle, the contents are gently tamped down onto the serving plate, the form is removed, and the final creation presented!

In this recipe, the ingredients are also superb. The sensual, smooth texture of sashimi-grade ahi tuna, silky mango and creamy avocado are complimented by tangy Wasabi Crème Fraîche and fresh picked ginger, which add a delectable Asian influence and extra zing to this spectacular salad. You can also make this dish with fresh cooked swordfish or crab, for friends who aren't as comfortable with the notion of raw fish — they all taste great and look "mahvelous"! 

Ahi Tuna Tartare Napoleon
Serves 4

1/2 lb sashimi-grade tuna or salmon, cut in 1/4-inch dice
2 ripe avocados, skinned, seeded and cut in 1/4-inch dice
2 ripe mangos, skinned, seeded and cut in 1/4-inch dice
1 english cucumber
1 tbsp fresh pickled ginger, minced
1 tbsp minced chives, chopped
1 cup of watercress or micro greens, for garnish
1 cup mango juice

1 package artisanal sesame flatbreads

Wasabi Crème Fraîche:
1/2 tsp wasabi
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream

Using a sharp knife or mandoline, slice the cucumber into thin slices. Slightly overlapping each slice, arrange the slices in a 5 or 6-inch circle in the center of each serving plate. This will form the base of each stack. Repeat on each plate.

To make the Wasabi Crème Fraîche, combine the two ingredients, cover and chill.

To make the Mango Coulis, set the mango juice in a small pot over medium heat and reduce until thick and syrupy, about 15-20 minutes. Once reduced, set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the tuna and chives and season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste.

To create each napoleon, set the mold in the centre of the cucumber round. Spoon the first layer of the salad — the chopped avocado — into the mold, then spoon in the next layer — the chopped mango — then a tablespoon of Wasabi Crème Fraîche and teaspoon of pickled ginger. Finish with a couple of spoonfuls of chopped tuna, and gently tamp down to help the stack hold its shape after unmolding. Remove the mold from the salad, lifting it straight up to keep the stack intact. Repeat for the additional napoleons.

To serve, top each salad with a sprig or two of fresh watercress or seasonal microgreens and garnish the plate with a few dots of Mango Coulis and Wasabi Crème Fraîche. Serve with decorative sesame flatbreads or lavosh to help spoon up the last remains of the salad.