This is a dish I developed for the Chocolat inspired dinner party I posted about a while ago. It is a truly inspired dish. It is light on the palette and beautifully complex with surprising fruit and floral notes. It is elegant and refined; a beautiful way to start a meal. It’s not at all difficult, so I highly recommend you give it a go if you want to impress. You will need to get your hands on some good quality ingredients though, specifically: sashimi grade tuna, raw cacao powder and a Tahitian vanilla bean.
Raw cacao is very high in antioxidants and has a fruitier, more mellow flavour than ordinary cocoa powder (which is commonly roasted then Dutch processed with an alkali), making it perfect for this dish. Do not bother making this dish with ordinary cocoa, it will totally overpower the tuna and defeat the subtle complexity of the dish.
Wanting a small salad to serve with the tuna, I realised I had to come up with a vanilla dressing. My beloved spice merchants, Gewurzhaus, stock three different types of vanilla beans: Mexican, Madagascan and Tahitian. Most vanilla beans purchased in Australia are Madagascan. They have the rich vanilla flavour you might be familiar with. Mexican vanilla beans have a very deep and earthy fragrance, producing a very rich flavour. Fabulous though it is, it is not at all suitable for this dish. Tahitian vanilla however has light floral aromas and is best suited for uncooked dishes to retain its delicate flavour. This my friends is the vanilla for this dish.
Serves 8 as a starter
|¼||cup||raw cacao powder|
|500||grams||sashimi grade tuna*|
|1/2||Tahitian vanilla bean|
*I used a tail end of the sashimi fillet, because it is thin enough to create small pieces suitable for serving as a delicate starter. My fillet had some sinew, you may ask your fishmonger to remove this or do it yourself at home with a very sharp knife.
To make the curing mixture, combine the sugar, salt and cacao powder in a bowl. Place a sheet of cling film over a plate and sprinkle on half the curing mixture.
To cure the tuna, trim the tuna of any sinew with a very sharp knife. Lay it on top of the curing mixture, then pour over the remaining cure. Wrap the tuna and cure in cling film, being sure the fish is covered with cure on all sides. Fold the cling film over to secure the contents. Place a second plate on top of the tuna and weigh it down with items from the fridge or some canned goods. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
To make the dressing, cut open the vanilla bean. Scrape the vanilla seeds into a small plastic container with the verjuice. Cut the vanilla bean into several pieces and add to the container. Place the lid on the container and leave for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
To prepare the salad, cut the cucumber in half lengthways, and then again so you have four lengths of cucumber. Remove the seeds of the cucumber and discard. Using a vegetable peeler, slice the cucumber into ribbons. Leave these ribbons in a bowl of iced water till you are ready to serve. Top and tail the radish, removing any errant roots. Cut the radishes in half lengthways then slice them thinly to form semicircular discs. Leave the radish pieces in a separate bowl of iced water till you are ready to serve.
To serve, remove the tuna from the fridge and shake off the curing mixture. Cut the tuna into 2-3 millimetre slices using a very sharp knife. Arrange tuna slices in a circle on individual serving plates. Top with a ball of cucumber ribbons and some radish slices. Drizzle over a little dressing and serve immediately.