Fresh Fluke in Smoky Vinaigrette

Hiramé no Tosa-Zu Aé

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

An American Taste of Japan

An American Taste of Japan

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1985

  • About

If you’re lucky enough to have a source for impeccably fresh fluke, or any other delicate white-fleshed fish, you can enjoy this subtly flavored fish salad as an appetizer. I’ve suggested two ways of slicing the fish, depending upon your knife skills; both are lovely.


Tosa-Zu Dressing

  • cup dashi (basic sea stock)
  • 1 tablespoon usukuchi shōyu (light soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mirin (syrupy rice wine)
  • 1 package (5 grams) OR about cup katsuo bushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 10 ounces fresh fillet of fluke, sea bream, OR snapper
  • 4–6 leaves fresh red-tipped lettuce


In a small saucepan, combine the stock, two soys, and syrupy rice wine. Heat this mixture until it just begins to simmer. Sprinkle the bonito flakes over the seasoned stock. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the stock steep for 3 minutes before pouring it through a cloth- or paper-lined strainer or colander. With the back of a spoon, press on the solids to extract all the liquid from the bonito flakes. Let the seasoned stock cool to room temperature, then add the rice vinegar to complete making the smoky vinaigrette. Cover the dressing and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. You may prepare this step ahead of time. The dressing keeps for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Rinse the fillet under cold water and pat dry completely. Lay the fillet on your cutting board and, with a long-bladed, very sharp knife, slice the fish into broad, thin, diagonal slices. Your knife should be held at a 45-degree angle to your board and the blade should be pulled smoothly through the fish, not sawed back and forth. If you succeed in producing eight or ten gorgeous slices (and you will—with a bit of practice), you can arrange them to look like a rose. If the slices should fall apart or not measure at least 4 inches in length and inches in width, finish cutting by making narrow julienne slices from what you do have.

Rinse the lettuce leaves under cold water and shake them free of excess moisture (a few remaining “dew drops” are fine). Place the leaves on your serving plates.

Set aside 2–3 tablespoons full of the chilled smoky vinaigrette. If you’re going to make roses, let your broad flat slices marinate in the remainder of the dressing for 5 minutes. If you’re using julienne strips, toss them in the remainder of the dressing, draining after a minute.

To make roses from your slices, roll the fish as illustrated. Place two flowers on each lettuce leaf. With a blunt point, open up the center of the flowers just enough to allow a few bits of chive or scallion green to nestle in each. If you’re serving the fish in julienne shreds, toss them with the chives or scallion greens, then mound them on the leaves. In either case, moisten the fish with a few drops of the reserved smoky vinaigrette dressing just as you get ready to bring the plates to the table.