Inspired by my meal at LD Restaurant, this dish started out as my own version of their red porgy sashimi. In Marko Gajski’s kitchen, the fish, cured with cherries and rolled together with a caper leaf, was garnished with lemon cream and wild fennel fronds, and sat on top of a red porgy parfait glazed with clarified butter, surrounded by a cucumber gazpacho with pickles and olive oil infused with wild fennel fronds. But my recipe evolved into something a bit different…
I kept the cucumber, lemon, caper leaves, and fennel fronds (don’t worry, I’ll soon post a recipe that will use the fennel bulbs to which those fronds are inevitably attached). The elements of the dish and the plating also bear more than a fleeting resemblance to the original. Caper leaves in particular aroused my interest: a relatively novel ingredient, the leaves are preserved in extra virgin olive oil with some salt and vinegar, their taste slightly reminiscent of the caper buds we usually eat. You can purchase some here.
At the same time, LD Restaurant’s red porgy parfait seemed to me in some ways a fancier version of the fish pâté that many restaurants on the Adriatic coast serve as an amuse-bouche, sometimes accompanied by anchovy fillets or shrimp, often gaudily presented in a scallop shell with a cherry tomato and a leaf of something green. So I decided to roll back some of Gajski’s French and Asian influences and include elements from other dishes I ate in Dalmatia: a tuna carpaccio here, a simply prepared local shrimp there. Unlike a Dalmatian restaurant recipe that calls for various fish scraps, my fish terrine is made with fillets of branzino and daurade (sometimes called by its Italian name, orata). And so I now present the resulting Dalmatian trio.
Dalmatian Trio: Fish Terrine, Tuna Carpaccio, and Shrimp
Yields 6 servings
Total preparation: 13 hours 30 minutes
Active preparation: 1 hour 45 minutes
60 g white wine
6 g tomato paste
300 g cleaned (skinned and boned) branzino and daurade (orata) fillets
4.5 g salt
0.2 g curing salt
0.8 g sweet paprika
70 g (about 2) egg whites
200 g heavy cream
about 5 g butter
- In a very small saucepan over medium heat, reduce the white wine to 1/4, then add the tomato paste and let cool.
- Cut the branzino and daurade fillets into chunks, and run through the small (2 mm) die of a meat grinder into a bowl. Scrape the walls of the grinder to collect as much fish as possible.
- In a small container, combine the salt, curing salt, and paprika. Add this seasoning and the tomato-wine reduction to the bowl containing the ground fish. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a whisk until foamy, then incorporate into the fish using a spatula. Grind the mass a second time using the same die, scraping the grinder walls well – I got about 360 g of mixture. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold into the fish mixture with a spatula.
- Place a silicon mold with six round cavities of 5 cm diameter and 2.5 cm height into an oven dish at least 2.5 cm deep. Line the bottom of each cavity with parchment paper, and grease the bottom and sides with butter. Fill the cavities with the fish mixture, level with an offset spatula, and cover with a piece of parchment paper greased with butter (greased side down).
- Fill the oven dish with boiling water so that the water level almost reaches the top of the silicon mold but does not go over it. Bake in 160 C / 325 F oven for 16-18 minutes, to an internal temperature of 60 C / 140 F.
- Let the fish terrines cool in the oven dish, then take the whole silicon mold out of the dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
6 shrimp, shell and head on if possible, about 30 g each (with shell and head)
about 1.5 g salt (see below)
about 0.35 g baking soda (see below)
about 0.35 g sweet paprika (see below)
- Weigh the shrimp, then measure 0.8% of that weight in salt, 0.2% in baking soda, and 0.2% in paprika. Toss the shrimp in a bowl with the other ingredients, then transfer to a sous-vide pouch and vacuum-seal.
- Cook the shrimp in a 56 C / 133 F water bath for 25 minutes, then let cool for 10 minutes.
- Take the shrimp out of the sous-vide pouch and shell them. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate.
210 g cucumber
about 3.2 g salt (see below)
215 g plain Greek yogurt
10 g lemon juice
- Cut the cucumber lengthwise, seed each half using a teaspoon, and slice. Weigh the sliced cucumber (I got about 160 g). Measure 2% of that weight salt and mix with the cucumber. Transfer to a kitchen towel placed in a strainer over a bowl. Refrigerate and let drain for an hour.
- Squeeze the kitchen towel to drain further. Transfer the cucumber to a blender and process on high speed to a smooth purée, adding a little bit of cucumber water if needed. Measure 85 g of that purée and discard the rest.
- In a bowl, mix the yogurt, lemon juice, and cucumber purée. Rectify the salt seasoning, cover, and refrigerate.
Fennel frond oil
12 g fennel fronds
50 g olive oil
- Bring about 1 liter of salted water to a boil, and add a pinch of baking soda. Blanch the fennel fronds for 10 seconds, then drain and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Let cool for a minute.
- Squeeze the water from the fronds, pat dry with paper towels, then coarsely chop and transfer to a blender. Add the olive oil, and blend on high speed for 30 seconds.
- Pass the mixture through a chinois, and then through a 100-micron filter. Pour into a squeeze bottle and refrigerate. It can be kept for a couple of days.
200 g tuna steak
20 g olive oil
black pepper, ground
- Freeze the tuna for 1 hour.
- Slice the fish very thinly. You need a total of 6 slices. Place each slice between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound gently using a meat pounder.
- Brush a large plate with some of the olive oil, and season with salt. Arrange the tuna slices on top, drizzle with the remaining oil, and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
fennel frond oil
12 caper leaves
segments from 1/2 lemon, skinned and cut into 4 pieces each
6 sprigs fennel fronds
6 small bread rolls
- Take the tuna carpaccio, cucumber yogurt, fennel frond oil, fish terrine, and sous-vide shrimp out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes ahead of time.
- Place 2 caper leaves on each slice of tuna carpaccio, and roll. Reserve on paper towels.
- In each serving bowl, spoon 2 generous tablespoons of cucumber yogurt then shake gently to spread it. Drizzle some fennel oil in a spiral, and garnish with 4 pieces of lemon pulp. Unmold a fish terrine and place it in the center. Top with a rolled slice of tuna carpaccio, a shrimp, and a sprig of fennel frond. Serve with a bread roll.