Tartare of Tuna

Such a nineties thing, the fish tartare. That’s rather like saying that tarragon chicken was a sixties thing, steak au poivre a seventies, viennoise of cod an eighties. A bit of a recurring theme in this book is the foolishness of the fashion-conscious, who seize upon a dish and put it on a pedestal so everyone of lesser talent feels bound to imitate it; the dish becomes devalued and bowdlerized and is consigned to outer darkness. This has happened to squid ink risotto, and it’s happened to the fish tartare, which like those other dishes above should have become part of the repertory. A tartare is like a salsa, in that you can put in lots of different things and, as long as they are carefully chosen, the thing will work. The difference with tartare is that the flavour of the fish must be protected. This recipe I think pays its correct respects to the tuna. The fish must be as fresh as possible.

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  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • grated rind of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp dill, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 anchovy fillets, mashed to a paste
  • 2 tbsp red onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 tsp drained, finely chopped capers
  • 350 g fresh tuna, free of membranes, cut into 1cm dice


Mix together in a bowl all the ingredients except the tuna, then add the fish and let stand in the fridge for half an hour or more. Don’t serve it fridge cold – bring it out about 15 minutes before serving and stir it a couple of times. This is one occasion when serving in a small ring is desirable, perhaps with a thin layer of sour cream on top, and a few salmon eggs (keta) to make it look (and taste) pretty.