Tuna tartare, and a repressed yuppie sort-of howl.

This morning I woke up late and was panic-stricken that it was Thursday already and I had so much to do and it was never going to get done and to top it all off there was no time for a shower and there is a hole in the sole of my boot and when I walked to the bus stop in the rain water leaked in and it made my foot stink and all I could think of was holy crap, why?! But then – great news! – it turned out to only be Wednesday and the sun came out and not only did I cross a whole bunch of stuff off of my to-do list, I may not have smelled as bad as I thought.

I blame society for the fact that I stress like this two or three times a week, and civilization, and pretty much everything that contributed to me having to wake up to an alarm every morning and question my commitment to hygiene every single day. And sometimes I get rebellious. But since I constantly teeter so precariously on the line between “communications professional” and “moron,” I had to make the difficult choice to only be rebellious in non-career-limiting bursts, at least whenever possible. I like to think that this is the result of maturity.

So today my rebellious, animal urges compelled me to eat a big pile of raw red meat, with a raw egg yolk perched on top and long shards of sharp Grana Padano balanced threateningly over the whole thing, and capers, I don’t know where, but capers. I thought about it, imagined it even, and set out to The Butcher on 10th Avenue on my way home today to demand my cut of beef, and was politely lectured about that pesky hygiene issue, and how tomorrow I would have to call ahead for a special cut of beef, one that had been kept in isolation and not touched the other, dirtier meats and knives and cutting boards. And I wanted to growl, “Give me the dirty meats! I AM MAN!” But The Butcher is in Point Grey where people are respectable and old, and that sort of outburst would have been frowned upon, and that’s the only place I’ve ever successfully acquired mutton.

Disheartened and subdued, I turned and skulked out, determined that I would eat something raw and animal before the evening turned to bedtime. Fortunately, there is a fish shop a few doors down where they sell local seafood, including sushi-grade frozen albacore tuna. I bought a small, very reasonably priced hunk of fish, and an overpriced avocado from a basket beside the cash register, and not an hour later had a mouth full of something raw after all.

For a taste of virility fresh from your own kitchen, here’s a recipe for tuna tartare. Use sushi-grade fish if you do, because I would hate for you to food-poison yourself or whatever happens if you use non-sushi-grade fish. I’ve food-poisoned myself lots of times, and it’s no fun, even if you get paid sick-days where you work too.

Tuna Tartare

(Serves two as a small meal or four as a small appetizer.)

  • 1/4 lb. frozen sushi-grade albacore tuna
  • 1 avocado, halved
  • 2 tbsp. chopped scallion, light green and dark green parts only
  • 1 tbsp. minced radish
  • 1/2 tsp. lime zest
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. mirin
  • 1 tsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Pinch sugar

The tuna should be frozen but workable. Mince it. Mince the hell out of it.

Dice half of the avocado. Place in a bowl, with the scallion, and the minced tuna.

In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients.

Thinly slice the remaining half of the avocado and lay it down on chilled plates as the foundation for the tartare.

Pour sauce over fish mixture, toss to coat, and press it into small ramekins lined with plastic wrap, as many as you’ll need. I used two of the small Pyrex custard cups.

Turn mixture out onto the plates, pulling the ramekin away, and peeling off the plastic. Garnish with remaining avocado, if any, and serve with a small, light salad. Or nothing, if it’s to be an appetizer. I like this with toast points, a single slice of homemade bread quartered.

It’s a nice, bright, cool dish, and one I think we’ll enjoy throughout the summer. I wanted to keep things light, so the flavours were rather subdued. You could punch this up with a bit of grapefruit juice, or add heat with a dash of sriracha. Be creative. And then feel as if your balance has returned, and have a shower, and try not to be manic again until at least the weekend.

Also? Thank you, Gerald, for your camera advice. Look! No blur!

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