Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.
As I quickly learned when developing my recipe for spicy tuna on crispy rice, there’s absolutely no reason to be intimidated by the prospect of making raw fish dishes at home. In fact, as long as you start with a good product (easily accessible at grocery stores that specialize in Asian foods, like H Mart, or from the online outlets of reputable fish purveyors), it doesn’t take much to turn it into a meal—and one free of added fats like oil and butter, since you’re not cooking the protein.
If you’re seeking a lighter, healthier dish, you could certainly serve this tartare over a whole grain of your choice or fresh greens, but for more of an indulgence, I spoon mine onto freshly fried wonton sheets topped with thinly sliced avocado for an added layer of lusciousness.
The sauce is a variation on an eel sauce, that thick soy-based sauce that you’ll often find drizzled over shrimp tempura sushi rolls, but with a kick of spice from sriracha to balance out the sweetness of the mirin (a Japanese rice wine commonly used for cooking). I’m a fan of this sweeter-style accompaniment to the salmon, but if you prefer a more savory sauce, you can always up the ratio of the soy sauce to the mirin.
I like to tackle the sauce first and then fry up the wontons, so I can prep the fish as close to serving time as possible. For frying, use a thermometer that clips to the side of your cooking vessel to monitor the temperature, and try to lay the sheets flat in the oil rather than just tossing them in, so they’ll be easier to work with and hold the tartare better. I suggest about 16 wontons for a main course of four per person, but you could easily scale this up and make a bunch for appetizers, whenever we can finally return to entertaining. Either way, I highly recommend frying at least a few extra wonton sheets because, trust me, you’ll want to snack on them as you go. They keep pretty well in an airtight container for a few days at room temperature, so you can also use extras for crumbling over salads or soups.
Once it’s time to cube the fish, everything comes together in a matter of minutes and should be eaten immediately, preferably with wine. My pick is Les Vins Bréban Côtes de Provence Rosé Mimi en Provence Grande Réserve 2019, similar to the 2018 vintage at 87 points for $17. I tend to gravitate toward clean, crisp, reliable Provence rosés like this one to pair with my takeout sushi orders (which are always heavy on the salmon), so the choice was a no-brainer for me. This wine features a nice fruity, candied-cherry flavor that pleasantly balances the spice, and it shows refreshing mineral notes that really shine when paired with the fish.
8 & $20: Salmon Tartare, Avocado and Wonton Chips with Rosé
Pair with a clean, crisp, dry rosé such as Les Vins Bréban Côtes de Provence Rosé Mimi en Provence Grande Réserve 2018 (87 points, $17).
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Approximate food costs: $30
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3/4 cup mirin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha
- Vegetable oil for frying (about 3 cups, depending on size of frying vessel)
- 16 wonton sheets, defrosted or fresh
- 1 1/4 pounds sushi-grade salmon
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 avocados, thinly sliced
1. In a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, whisk together soy sauce, mirin and sriracha and simmer while stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, add about half an inch of vegetable oil and heat over medium-high until it reaches 350° F. In the meantime, line a baking sheet with paper towels. When the oil is at temperature, carefully drop in as many sheets as fit at one time without them overlapping (for me, the max was 3). Fry for 30 seconds on both sides until lightly golden brown (they’ll darken more as they sit), then fish them out with a skimmer or spider (or use a slotted spoon or tongs) and transfer to the lined baking sheet. Season immediately with salt and set aside.
3. With a very sharp knife, cut the salmon into small cubes and add to a large bowl with scallions and desired amount of room-temperature sauce (I used about 4 tablespoons), and gently fold to combine.
4. Layer a few avocado slices on each fried wonton and top with a spoonful of the tartare. Serve immediately, with any extra sauce on the side. Serves 4; makes about 16 wontons.