Crudo made from readily available, locally caught fresh fish is a swimmy bonus of life here on the East End. It’s also why you may have noticed you see it more and more often on menus up and down the South Fork. Crudo (Italian and Spanish for raw) has easily gained menu status because the dish, first and foremost, celebrates the fish. And that’s exactly why Jeremy Blutstein, the renowned chef with an unwavering passion for locally sourced food, is such a fan of the preparation.
Fileted, dressed in variations of olive oil and citrus juice and then beautifully arranged, it’s an easy order in a restaurant—but it can be slightly intimidating to prepare at home. Blutstein bats these fears away like the quick swish of a fish tail.
“Visually it looks a lot more complex than it is,” says the James Beard-awarded chef, whose highly anticipated and soon-to-open modern steakhouse Mavericks on Fort Pond is poised to open its doors in April.
“The run of show for it is the beautiful Montauk fluke from Wesley Peterson at Montauk Seafood Company.”
For this crudo recipe, Fluke is a good choice not only because it is available year-round but most importantly because there are no pin bones since its skeletal system runs directly through the center. “You don’t have to worry about taking them out as you would porgy or black sea bass,” explains Blutstein, “although this recipe could work deliciously with porgy, a phenomenal fish often overlooked.”
Having the fish fileted by your local fishmonger certainly is a good start for preparing this dish, along with some careful knife skills while slicing the fish “quite thin in a sashimi style,” says Blutstein.
Mandolin sliced fennel is then immersed into cold water “so it curls up on itself for aesthetic purposes” followed by some supremes of Florida citrus (“grapefruit this time of year is delicious,” says the chef), a squeeze of lemon juice and finished with Maldon sea salt and some smoked chili oil.
“The chili oil is made from the guajillo chili, which has a little bit of heat to it, but more smoke and body. You can buy them dried in specialty markets, or the oil as a finished product at L&W Market in Bridgehampton (made from smoked and dried chilis from Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett.)”
The plating is where the creativity comes in for crudo, and where Blutsein’s aesthetic shines.
“All of these ingredients are readily available and then just simply composed in a bright and cheerful crudo,” he explains. “It can be prepared in a large format for a family-style backyard gathering or as an individual dining experience.”
Let’s make crudo!
Chef Jeremy Blutstein’s fluke crudo
- 1/2 lb fresh fluke filet, bloodline removed, cut into sashimi-thin slices (Blutstein prefers Montauk Seafood Company—ask for Wes!)
- 1 whole grapefruit, peeled and cut into supremes
- 1 head fennel, shaved paper thin on a mandolin
- smoked guajillo chili oil
- 1 lemon, cut in half and seeds removed
- 1 small bunch chives, shaved very thin with a sharp knife
- extra virgin olive oil (Blutstein's go-to is Marcelli Fromaggi unfiltered)
- Arrange sliced fluke on plat in random directions.
- Scatter grapefruit supremes loosey-goosey over fish.
- Season with Maldon sea salt.
- Loosely drape shaved fennel with reckless abandon.
- Garnish with shaved chives.
- Squeeze one half of lemon over the whole dish.
- Hit it again with a pinch of Maldon sea salt.
- "Paint" in the voids with smoked guajillo chili oil.
- Final pass with some of that good, good EVOO!
- Nail this, then bring two forms of ID and a good attitude and Blutstein will hire you on the spot.