Inspiration can show up when you least expect it. This dish was actually inspired by a Coconut Pana Cotta of all things. What does a creamy Italian desert have in common with a savory sashimi appetizer you ask? Aside from looking incredibly tasty, pana cotta's are typically creamy dishes that use a tart sauce to offset the fat. In this case, Helen used Yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit with mandarins to cut through the creaminess of the coconut milk and cream.
I suppose I am genetically programed to love Yuzu, yet I'm perpetually surprised at how a mere whiff of its citrusy floral aroma can put a huge smile on my face. I could go on espousing its virtues, but that's an ode for another post.
This dish layers thin slices of crisp sunchoke with thin slices of hamachi(yellowtail) sashimi. It's topped with a drizzle of olive oil and yuzu with a sprinkling of cherrywood smoked sea salt. The creamy smooth hamachi plays very nicely with the crisp sunchoke and tart Yuzu. If you can get your hands on smoked salt, it adds a wonderful meaty depth that infuses both character and body to the flavors in this dish.
While the ingredients on the list might seem intimidating to source, there's not many of them. The key is to use fresh, high quality ingredients, then to nail the presentation. You could substitute Meyer Lemon or Lime for the Yuzu and tuna for the yellow tail if you had to. Just make sure the ingredients you're using are of the best quality.
- Using a mandoline slice the sunchokes into a bowl of ice water. This removes any extra starch and makes the sunchokes even more crisp. When they're nice and cold, thoroughly dry each slice using paper towels.
- Make sure your hands are cold and dry (put them in some ice water). Using a very sharp knife (use a sashimi knife if you have one), slice the hamachi using the weight of the knife in a single smooth stroke towards you (start cutting at the back of the knife and end at the tip).
- Arrange them on a cold plate how you like and drizzle some yuzu, then some olive oil on top. Finish with a sprinkling of sea salt and serve immediately.