In the raw

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 September, 2011, 12:00am


I love raw seafood - not just sushi and sashimi, but also dishes such as crudo and tartare, and the rice wine-marinated cockles and crabs you find in Chinese cuisines. Be careful when eating raw seafood, though, because any bacteria present will not have been killed as it would have been if it were cooked. For these dishes, buy the seafood from reputable shops, keep the ingredients chilled and prepare them the day they're purchased.

Citrus, fennel and aquavit-cured salmon with lemon-horseradish sour cream (pictured)

The curing time varies according to how strongly flavoured you want the fish to be. After about 12 hours, the salmon is 'cooked' enough: the texture will be soft and the flavour quite mild. If you leave it longer, the salmon becomes firmer and the taste saltier. I wouldn't cure it for more than 1 1/2 days.

600 grams skin-on salmon fillet, in one piece, and about 2.5cm thick at its thickest part

150 grams kosher salt (or another type of medium-grained salt)

150 grams granulated sugar

Finely grated zest of one lemon, one orange and two limes

24 whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed in a mortar

1 tbsp lightly toasted fennel seeds, crushed

About 30ml aquavit (or vodka)

For the lemon-horseradish sour cream:

200 grams sour cream

Finely grated zest of one lemon

About 25 grams fresh horseradish, grated

To serve:

Rye or pumpernickel bread, sliced thin

Fresh fennel or dill sprigs

Lemon wedges

Rinse the salmon fillet with cold water then drain it and pat it dry with paper towels. Run your fingers over the fleshy side of the salmon to check for bones; if you find them, remove them with needle-nose pliers. Thoroughly combine the salt, sugar, citrus zest, peppercorns and fennel seeds. Add just enough aquavit (or vodka) to moisten the ingredients. Lay a sheet of cling-film on the work surface. Spread an even layer of some of the salt/sugar mixture - about the same surface dimensions of the salmon - on the cling-film. Put the salmon skin-side down on top of the salt/sugar mixture, then cover with the remaining mixture so the fish is completely encased in it. Wrap the cling-film tightly around the fish then place it on a dish large enough to hold it (in case it leaks). Refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 36 (you can unwrap the fish occasionally during the curing process and cut off a piece to taste it to see if it's the way you want it). When the salmon is ready, unwrap it and scrape away all the curing ingredients. Rinse it briefly with cold water and pat it dry with paper towels.

Mix the sour cream with the lemon zest and horseradish to taste (the flavour will increase the longer it stands). Slice the cured salmon across the grain into thin pieces. Spoon a dollop of the sour cream mixture on the bread and drape a piece of the salmon over it before garnishing with fennel or dill and adding a squeeze of lemon.

Asian-style scallop carpaccio

For this dish, buy scallops without the roe.

500 grams fresh scallops

About 20ml light soy sauce

About 15ml fresh orange juice

5ml pure sesame oil

A few drops of chilli oil

About 1/2 tsp grated ginger

To garnish:

2 spring onions, white and pale green part only, minced

1 tsp white sesame seeds

Fresh lime wedges

Toast the sesame seeds in an unoiled skillet over a low flame, stirring constantly until they're fragrant. Cool completely.

Use a sharp knife to cut the scallops as thinly and evenly as possible, slicing parallel to the cutting board. Mix the soy sauce with the orange juice, sesame oil, chilli oil and ginger, then drizzle over the scallops. Mix thoroughly, then taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary. Lay the scallops in concentric circles over four chilled plates. Scatter with the sesame seeds and spring onion before serving with the lime wedges for squeezing.

Tuna tartare with pink peppercorns

500 grams top-quality fresh tuna

3 spring onions, finely minced

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp wasabi paste, or to taste

30ml light soy sauce

5ml pure sesame oil

1 slightly heaped tbsp pink peppercorns

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 quail eggs, yolk only

Thin slices of crisply toasted bread, cut into triangles

Put the tuna in the freezer for about 30 minutes before preparing the dish, then use a sharp knife to finely mince it. Stir the ginger with the wasabi paste, soy sauce and sesame oil. Gently mix this with the tuna, taste for seasonings then adjust if necessary. Add the spring onion, pink peppercorns and a sprinkling of grated black pepper and gently combine. Shape the tuna mixture into four patties and place on plates. Make a small indentation on the surface of each patty and add the quail egg yolk; discard the whites. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt then serve with the toast triangles.

Styling Nellie Ming Lee