Summer means not wanting to turn on the oven, and this salmon crudo with meyer lemon ponzu is a stunning centerpiece for a hot day. Crunchy radishes, sweet and crisp apples, and punchy jalepenos add the perfect contrast to the buttery raw salmon. The subtly smokey and citrusy ponzu sauce comes together in a matter of minutes thanks to the addition of instant dashi. Don’t be afraid to let the crudo sit a few minutes before digging in, the ponzu will gently cure and tenderize the fish for the most extravagant melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Sourcing “Sashimi Grade” Fish
To make a salmon crudo (basically a raw salmon dish), you need the freshest fish possible. I’ve written more extensively about the ins and outs of sashimi grade fish in my kumquat ceviche recipe, but will summarize briefly here. While there is absolutely nothing “legal” about the term “sashimi grade,” fishmongers use it to describe fish that is fresh enough to be eaten raw. When sourcing sashimi grade fish, make sure to go to a reputable store. A quick google for “sashimi grade fish in X city” will give you plenty of results to start from. In the bay area, Tokyo Fish Market and Berkeley Bowl carry a decent selection of sashimi grade fish.
Also, don’t assume that sashimi grade fish will empty your pockets. I’ve often found the price to be somewhat comparable to regular fresh salmon, even more so because you need less fish overall for a raw preparation.
A shortcut to making ponzu at home: hondashi instant dashi
For traditional ponzu, kombu and bonito flakes steep in a soy, mirin, and citrus mixture for a few days. Kombu (a dried seaweed) and bonito flakes (dried and fermented tuna) are the two primary ingredients in dashi: the umami-forward and slightly smoky soup base that flavors some of Japan’s most treasured recipes, including miso soup and ramen. In this recipe, we use instant dashi to create delicuous ponzu sauce in a matter of seconds.
Before you write off hondashi as some cheap substitute, it actually has a pretty good reputation for when you need dashi in a pinch. I keep it in my fridge at all times, and it comes in handy anytime I want to make a quick miso udon for lunch or to add depth and umami to pretty much anything. It also has a hefty does of MSG, which I wrote about in more detail here (hint: it’s not bad for you). You can buy hondashi at your local asian market or online.
Salmon Crudo with Meyer Lemon Ponzu and Apple SalsaCourse: Appetizers, MainCuisine: JapaneseDifficulty: Easy
Summer means not wanting to turn on the oven, and this salmon crudo with meyer lemon ponzu is a stunning centerpiece for a hot day. Crunchy radishes, sweet and crisp apples, and punchy jalepenos add the perfect contrast to the buttery raw salmon.
- For the meyer lemon ponzu
4 tbsp meyer lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
3.5 tbsp soy sauce
¼ tsp hondashi (instant dashi granules, optional, see note)
2 tsp mirin
- For everything else
1 small Jalapeno
⅓ of an apple
1 tbsp sesame oil, plus more for topping
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
½-1 tsp chili flakes
10 oz sashimi grade salmon
Salt and pepper to taste
- First, make the ponzu
- In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, soy, hondashi, and mirin and stir to combine.
- Place in the fridge to chill while you prep the rest of your ingredients
- Next, make the jalapeno, apple, and radish salsa
- Finely mince the jalapeno, apple, and radish into very small, uniform pieces. For milder flavor, remove the jalapeno seeds and ribs first.
- Thinly slice the scallion.
- Place all the vegetables in a small bowl and add the sesame oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and chili flakes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Finally, assemble
- Using a very sharp knife, slice the salmon against the grain. You want the slices about ½ of an inch thick. You’ll know you have cut against the grain if the fat lines are running mostly vertical or diagonal, and not horizontal.
- Place the salmon slices on a deep serving platter. Scatter the salsa over the salmon and around the plate. You may not need all of it.
- Slowly, pour the ponzu over the salmon until it spreads around the bottom of the entire plate. Depending on the size of the plate, you may need more or less ponzu.
- Top with a drizzle of sesame oil.
- Enjoy as is or over steamed rice.
- Hondashi is an instant dashi product. Traditionally ponzu steeps with bonito and kombu (the ingredients in dashi). Use hondashi for a shortcut. You can buy hondashi online here.