Crudo: Italy's Answer to Sashimi
Raw fish has found a place in cuisines around the world: sashimi, ceviche, tartare, crudo, etc.
While we're all familiar with Japanese sashimi and sushi - in fact, they've become almost as "American" as apple pie, Italian crudo (the word for "raw") has only been on Americans' radar for a few years now.
In American restaurants, sashimi is usually enjoyed with any combination of soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi.
While crudo is yet another form of thinly sliced raw fish, the Italians often drizzle it with olive oil, lemon juice and salt - a pungent and acidic combination.
Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich can take a bit of the credit for introducing America, or at least the New York foodie crowd, to crudo at their restaurant, Esca, in midtown.
Italy, of course, is chock full of small fishing towns where crudo has been served for decades, but the delicacy is becoming a trendy choice in hipster restaurants across the U.S.
However, most American chefs are loathe to serve a traditional crudo. Using the freshest and most unique ingredients to accent the raw fish is tantamount to an artist using mixed media.
Quality crudo, much like sashimi and tartare, depends on the delicate balance between fat, spice, salt and acid.
While you may not find crudo at your favorite neighborhood restaurant, there's no reason you can't try it at home. Just be sure you select fish from a reputable source. Tell your fishmonger that you will be consuming it raw and ask for sashimi-grade fish.
Fillets are ideal for slicing into smooth, thin strips. Be sure to cut with the grain. For the classic preparation, add olive oil, lemon juice and salt. If you're feeling more adventurous, try vinegar or other citrus with your favorite flavored salt and spices.