Monday, April 22, 2013

Vietnamese Crudo, Yuzu Nuoc Mam, Pomelo, Saigon Herbs

Being that I am Italian, I will take the liberty of using the term crudo when describing this dish.  Considering that I will dress the fish, it is closer to a traditional crudo than the Japanese sashimi.  However, the use of yuzu does bring in a Japanese element, but who is following the rules today anyhow?  I try to stick to the more traditional preparations, but today my restaurant side got the best of me, and I put together something of a hybrid.  

Originally grown in China, the yuzu has become very popular in Japanese cooking.  Ironically, the name in Chinese refers to the pomelo, which we will discuss in a moment.  Tart and aromatic are two characteristics of the fruit.  Since citrus juice is added to nuoc mam, I have used yuzu juice and heightened the tartness in the crudo. 

For texture and a slight sweetness, pomelo segments will be added.  The pomelo is a large citrus in the shape of a pear but with the skin of a grapefruit.  However, when you cut it open, the pith is very thick with a dense inner flesh.  

Striped Bass Crudo with Yuzu Nuoc Mam, Pomelo and Saigon Fresh Herbs
2 filetsStriped Bass sliced 
1 pomelo segmented
1 tbsp yuzu nuoc mam (recipe below)
1 tsp lemongrass minced white only
2 shallots minced
1 tsp cilantro chopped
1 tsp Vietnamese coriander chopped-*
1 tsp perilla chopped-*

Yuzu Nuoc Mam
½cup fish sauce-*¼cup water
2tbsp rice wine vinegar 
¼ cup palm sugar (or to taste)-*
1or 2 limes juiced
3cloves garlic minced
2Thai chilis thinly sliced-*

1 tbsp yuzu juice-*
*- ingredients can be found at your local Asian Market





Make sure the fish is very cold as this will make it easier to slice.  Cut open the pomelo, and clean all the pith and skin away from the flesh.  Using a very sharp knife, cut the segments avoiding all seeds and flesh.  You should have nice pieces of fruit that are very clean, which you can now slice into thin pieces.  The white pith is very bitter, and we do not want that mucking up our fish.  

Over low heat, warm up the first four ingredients for nuoc mam, and when the sugar is dissolved, add the rest and taste for balance.  It should be salty, sweet, sour, and spicy.  You can adjust it accordingly.

Gently cut the fish into nice uniform slices moving the knife across the grain of the meat.  Carefully place the fish slices on a plate and add the pomelo segments.  Dress the plate with herbs, lemongrass, shallots, and nuoc mam.  You may want to add more or less of each depending on your taste.  Personally, I enjoy the freshness of a lot of herbs, so I tend to overdo them, but to each his own.  Just make it however you feel it tastes best.  


Crudo and The Cure!  Yeah, that is kind of what happened.  I fell into a bizarre trance of Simon Gallup's bass and fish!  I agree that it makes no sense, but what can you do?  Plus, "Love Song" reminds me of my wife which puts a big smile on my face.  Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me was the Cure album that changed my outlook towards music, but I was lost in Disintegration and enjoyed it!

So let's make a drink!! I found a few trusty ingredients and came up with a little bourbon flavored beverage.   Saigon Mint Julep- 2 oz. bourbon, 1oz. simple syrup, 2 oz. pineapple juice, splash of yuzu juice, perilla, lemongrass- muddle perilla and lemongrass, add ice, bourbon, simple syrup, yuzu, and pineapple juice.  Mix well, and enjoy!  Now I need to invite Robert Smith over to have a drink, and I can wonder if his hair is always that big!