Evan Funke, executive chef at Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen in Santa Monica and the subject of this week's chef interview, spends a lot of time at the Santa Monica farmers market. It is, after all, not too far down the street from his restaurant. Of course, he's hardly the only local chef to spend his Wednesday mornings trolling the stalls for produce: on any given day, the market can seem like a chef and restaurant industry meeting place as much as a place to buy Meyer lemons and Gaviotas and Russian fingerling potatoes.
For Funke's dish of yellowtail crudo, currently on the menu at the restaurant, your best bet is to find a farmers market too. The dish is very simple — crudo is the Italian version of sashimi, a plate of sushi-grade fish, typically accompanied by olive oil and sea salt rather than wasabi and pickled ginger — and thus heavily reliant on high quality ingredients. In this case, a handful of thinly sliced kumquats, a chiffonade of mint, and a few red jalapeños, quick pickled in the time it takes to assemble the dish.
Yellowtail crudo, with kumquats, pickled chiles and mint
From: Chef Evan Funke of Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen.
Note: The fish must be sushi-grade quality, which is available at Mitsuwa and other Japanese markets. Funke says that you can substitute amberjack or albacore for the yellowtail.
Makes: 1 serving
1 red jalapeño
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup white distilled vinegar
3-4 ounces sushi-grade yellowtail
fleur d sel
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
high quality olive oil
1. Slice the jalapeño and place in a bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt and toss together, then set aside.
2. In a sauce pot, combine the vinegar with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, pour pickling liquid over the bowl of chilis and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, slice the fish into 1/4-inch slices and arrange on a plate. Season each slice of fish with a pinch of fleur de sel.
4. Slice the kumquats thinly, picking out and disgarding any seeds, and place a few on each slice of fish. Add 1-2 pickled chilis to each piece of fish.
5. Thinly slice, or chiffonade, the mint by stacking the leaves (not rolling them) and sprinkle the mint over the entire dish. Squeeze a wedge of lemon on the fish. Drizzle a fine stream of good olive oil and serve immediately.
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