jade buddha salmon tartare

August 9th, 2009 § 8


(We have been trying to blog this for weeks. Raw fish is one of the hardest things in the world to photograph.) This simple and elegant treatment for salmon was inspired by a spectacular spicy beef tartare we tasted at Marché 27, just down the street from where we live. The dish featured two favourite flavours – the smoky burn of chipotle and sweet sting of red chile. We recreated it at home a week later in what we call the Saturday night test kitchen, and were inspired by this success to create a spicy Thai beef tartare.

The first attempt was a surprising disappointment. We make a brilliant yellow Thai curry paste that braises incredibly well with pork loin and coconut milk. I could taste in my mind how perfectly this curry would work in a tartare, with its structured layers of flavour: an earthy base of roasted cumin and turmeric, the bright heat of ginger, garlic and bird’s eye chiles, and a sparkling top-note of lemongrass and cilantro stems. A squeeze of lime, and we’d be in tartare nirvana.

Not so. We underestimated the importance of cooking the paste, and the raw curry had little flavour. While trying to enjoy it, we planned the second attempt. Frying the curry would release and bind the flavours, some raw onion would add needed bite. And perhaps raw beef was not the best platform for these flavours anyway?


So we set out a second time, with salmon. And let’s not use the curry we saved, let’s start with green onion. And some chives and cilantro leaves. And a little lime zest. And a squeeze of juice. Hmm. It’s all green. Do we have any green chiles? No, but a bit of wasabi might do. No, try the green habanero sauce, and grate some ginger. More lime? Something brighter. Champagne vinegar. Yes. Pepper. Salt. Done. And in ten minutes we had created what we now think (after trying it again several times) is the first original masterpiece to emerge from the test kitchen.


The only improvement we made the second time around was to add Thai basil, green chiles and a more aromatic pepper – some wild Madagascar pepper we picked up at Olive et Epices in the Jean-Talon market over the weekend. Grinding it in the mortar and pestle released an intensely fragrant aroma, resinous and woody, like hot cedar tears. Don’t overdo the lime juice or the salt. And be sure to add the lime juice and vinegar at the last minute, to avoid cooking the tartare. Serve with mashed avocado and thin slices of day-old baguette, brushed with oil and baked until golden. Makes two generous main courses, or four appetizers.


Jade Buddha Salmon Tartare

350 g salmon, finely diced
2 tbsp. chopped green onion
1 tbsp. chopped chives
1 tbsp. cilantro
1 tbsp. thai basil
2 tsp. grated ginger
zest of one lime
good squeeze of lime juice
1 tsp. champagne or rice vinegar
habanero sauce and minced green chile
salt and pepper
olive oil to coat

green szechuan pepper
rice vinegar
cilantro or mint oil as garnish

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§ 8 Responses to “jade buddha salmon tartare”

  • Jen says:

    Wow! That looks absolutely incredible. I love salmon tartar in general, but have never attempted making it at home. Maybe I’ll actually try this. Thanks for posting the recipe. Your photos are gorgeous.

  • Alli says:

    It looks delicious, I’m going to store this recipe for a dinner party! Thanks.

  • LazySumo says:

    This looks amazingly tasty. Yes, two senses wrapped up in one phrase, I know. But it does.

  • [...] link to a food blog titled The Dog’s Breakfast where they had this beautiful entry for Jade Buddah Salmon Tartare with some of the best food photography I’ve seen in a while. Really, beautiful. The idea of [...]

  • Jessie says:

    This looks AWESOME. I recently went to a party where the host…ahem…attempted a salmon tartar (lets just say bland and oily came to mind). But THIS looks gorgeous. I won’t send the link to the chef of said bland appetizer attempt, but I will certainly invite them to MY place and serve THIS. Thanks boys and keep creating the gold.

  • Jon says:

    Like everything else you two make, that looks phenomenal! Can’t wait to try this recipe.

  • Tom says:

    Yum. The photography on this site is amazing!

  • JoJo says:

    I’m utterly mesmerized by your blog. this recipe looks so damn good, it combines just about all of my favorite flavors.

    Recommended wine

    Torres Viña Esmeralda
    An unusual and extremely refreshing blend of Moscatel de Alejandría and Gewürztraminer grapes that perfectly complements this silken, aromatic tartare. Lychee, musk, and wax crayon bouquet. On the tongue, it’s all luscious, buttery melon, and a surprising gingery finish. A glorious bargain, also excellent as an aperitif with hard cheese and a bit of Spanish ham.