THE NEXT TIME you get your hands on a truly excellent piece of fish, remember these three words: Less is more. That’s the ethos of crudo—literally, Italian for “raw.” Serving fresh fish with few frills “really lets the product shine,” says Peter Juusola, a partner at Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co., a restaurant and fish market in Brooklyn.
Home cooks tend to shy from raw seafood. But there’s no reason to fear crudo (not to be confused with its South American cousin, ceviche, in which the fish is “cooked” in the acidity of fresh citrus.) You just need to follow a couple of simple rules. First and foremost: Find a trustworthy fishmonger. “Ask for the freshest, best stuff they have,” Juusola says. “And tell them what you plan to do with it.” Then slice your fillets thinly against the grain. “Otherwise,” he says, “you won’t have a tender bite; you’ll have a chewy bite.”
From there, the possibilities are endless. You’re looking for a balance between bright acidity, unctuous fat, and some crunch. It can be as simple as the olive oil, lemon, sea salt, and chopped chives. For extra texture, add slices of fennel, cucumber, or radishes. For more fat, chopped avocado. For an Asian touch, drizzle with sesame oil and soy sauce, and toss with chopped hot chilies. This basic recipe can get you started. But the most important factor, Juusola says, is not to overthink things. As long as the fish is superfresh, he says, “it’s almost impossible to mess it up.”
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Makes 4-6 servings
- 3/4 lb extremely fresh fish fillets (salmon, albacore tuna, fluke, and red snapper all work well; avoid swordfish, cod, and halibut, which tend to be mushy when raw)
- Juice and zest of 2 lemons or limes
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin oil
- Maldon sea salt to taste
How to make it