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Tuna Tartare with Fresh Strawberries & Chives

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I can’t lay claim to this dish. I learned during the Summer of 2005 while working for chef Pier Luigi Campi in Florence, Italy. The only difference between preparations is in the use of the balsamic vinegar. Pier Luigi would create balsamic “spheres” by heating the vinegar with Agar Agar. Then he used a syringe to drip the liquid into chilled olive oil. Once set, chef Campi would strain the spheres out and add them to the tartare mixture instead of drizzling in on the plate.

My preparation of this dish relies solely on the “taste-as-you-go” method rather than precise measurements for each ingredient. Start with five ounce of yellow fin tuna. Add smaller amounts of the remaining ingredients, then taste and adjust the mixture as needed.

I highly recommend using good aged balsamic vinegar to finish the dish. The cheaper stuff doesn’t have that complex sweetness or the viscosity reminiscent of traditional balsamic vinegar.

The tuna tartare can me prepared slightly ahead of time, but it’s best served immediately. Feel free to serve mildly favored crackers or crostini as an accompaniment to the dish.

Serves four to six people as an appetizer.

Ingredients

Yellow Fin Tuna, 1/4 inch dice5 oz.
Fresh Strawberries, finely dicedas needed
Chives, thinly slicedas needed
Fresh Lemon Juiceto taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oilto taste
Fresh Ground Black Pepperto taste
Sea Saltto taste
Good Balsamic Vinegara drizzle

Preparation

To start, rinse a few strawberries and cut them into small dice. Place the diced berries in a small to medium sized mixing bowl.

Cut your fresh yellow fin tuna into 1/4 inch dice. Place it in the bowl with the finely diced strawberries. Occasionally, you’ll find layers of connective tissue tucked in between the layers of tuna muscle. The texture is unpleasant so purchase a piece that has as little of this white tissue as possible. Remove any that you find on your tuna loin and discard it.

Next, finely slice some chives into thin rings. Add them to the bowl with the other prepared ingredients. Take a few of the leftover chives, slice each lengthwise into thin strips and soak them in ice water. After a few minutes the chive strips will curl up and make a perfect garnish.

Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice to the tartare, followed by a drizzle of high quality extra virgin olive oil. Season the mixture with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss all of the ingredients to combine them thoroughly. Taste and adjust the tartare as needed.

Drizzle a small amount on good balsamic vinegar onto each of your serving plates. Divide the tuna tartare evenly between each dish, then garnish with some additional chives.

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