For today's Appetite for Instruction, chef Mike Pacheco chose to demonstrate one of his favorite and most colorful dishes, satisfying both the palate and the eyes. Tuna tartare, which is finely chopped raw tuna with Pacheco's specialty mix of sauces and seasonings served on wonton squares, may sound like an intimidating recipe but it requires no cooking -- just mix, mix, stir and you're done.
He first whipped up this dish when a friend requested an appetizer off the menu, and his spectacular new recipe didn't disappoint. The tuna tartare is now the second most requested dish at The Landmark, after The Landmark Burger, and has even been requested as hors d'oeuvres for weddings at the Melrose (also home to the Library Bar.)
Not every venture into the unknown yields great results, however. Once, on a whim, he substituted the tuna with scallops, which he recalls with a cringe. Since then he's vowed to stick with the tuna.
Pacheco has completely revamped the menu since his promotion to executive chef last year. His mantra: Keep it simple. Don't get caught up in the ingredients. Pouring the entire cupboard into each dish detracts from the flavor -- for example, losing the flavor of protein in fish.
The menu at The Landmark changes each season, so only the freshest foods are served, and the same items are available everywhere in the hotel, at the restaurant, the Library Bar and room service.
Ingredients: One package of frozen wontons Vegetable oil 3 oz raw tuna 2 tsp Key lime juice (or half a lime) 1 TBSP Tamari soy sauce ½ tsp sesame oil 1 tsp Sriracha sauce 1 tsp black sesame seeds 1 TBSP black sesame dust Salt to taste 1 TBSP wasabi aioli 1 TBSP micro shiso (a perennial herb in the mint family, available at Central Market, Whole Foods or a specialty food store)
Step 1: Thaw wonton sheets, peel five from stack and cut into squares. Fry squares in vegetable oil at 325 degrees until crispy. Lay them on paper towels to cool. Set aside.
Step2: Slice tuna loin into bite-sized cubes, cutting away the fat, and place in small bowl.
Step 3: Squeeze lime juice over the tuna and mix. The acidity from the juice "cooks" the tuna, as in ceviche.
Step 4: Add Tamari soy sauce (for the extra flavor without much sodium), sesame oil and Sriracha sauce and mix. Allow tuna mixture to marinate for 3 to 4 minutes.
Step 5: Sprinkle sesame seeds, sesame dust and salt to taste, and mix.
Step 6: Dot the plate with wasabi aioli, which will keep the wontons keep from sliding across the plate.
Step 7: Spoon the tuna mixture onto each wonton square and place side-by-side on the plate.
Step 8: Dot each square with wasabi aioli.
Step 9: Garnish with micro shiso. Try to resist the urge to stick the whole thing in your mouth. After the first taste of the sweet, spicy and cool flavors tingling your tongue, you'll want to make the most of each bite.
Chef Pacheco recommends pairing the tuna tartare with Fat Tire or a dark lager, such as Shiner Bock. If beer's not your thing, he suggests Champagne.