At the end of yet another grueling and successful business event, I was enjoying dirty martinis with a good friend and superb producer who had put me to work, doing the speeches for her company's analyst meeting. We got to talking about food -- as is always the case with the most interesting people -- and I told her about my penchant for concocting raw fish dishes at 2 in the morning. My friend, whom we shall call Lisa, asked me for the recipe. I got home around midnight, slipped into my sushi chef clothes (Middlebury sweatshirt & ripped jeans), and whipped up a late-night raw snack. I sent her the recipe on the spot. The next morning I received the following reply:
Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2012 07:39:23 -0700
<<This is truly wonderful and if it's any indication of the writing in your book, I'll take two!>>
At that exact moment, the light went on. Enough waiting for the agents and the editors and the painstakingly slow process of the publishing machine. I was going to do this myself. Quite literally, that was the beginning of Food for Marriage. So I raise a glass to Lisa, with thanks for the inspiration. And here is the recipe, verbatim from that email, that got this whole delicious affair off the back burner.
--Finely dice about 1/3 lb. of superior, deep red-hued sashimi-grade tuna into 1/8 inch bits. Perfection not required. Make about a fistful.
--Dump in a small glass bowl. Add a splash of extra virgin, a splash of sesame oil, maybe a splash of chili oil. Mix it all up until the wonderful aroma of the sesame permeates your nose. (Coat the poisson, but not a pool of oil.)
--Chop in your fav herbs. A little scallion or shallot for sure! Fresh cilantro works great, too. Keep mixing.
--A little fresh ground pepper! A small pinch of darned fine sea or rock salt. This is key. You hit those salt bites and that is when the whole integrated flavor explosion achieves liftoff.
--Find a small ramekin (how I love that word!) or similar: maybe 4" in diameter and a few inches high? Oil the sides. Cram full of the tuna tartare mix. Pack pretty tightly, leaving maybe 1/2" of space in ramekin.
--Take same bowl you made the tasty fish mix in and smush in half a soft avocado. Mix with fork to chunky/a little smooth. Add a little salt and pepper to taste.
--Now, finish the pretty fish ramekin by topping with the avocado mix. Pack it and smooth it. Get it right to top and then cover tightly with cellophane. Refrigerate for about an hour or so.
--Find your prettiest small plate. Turn ramekin upside down and tap (or loosen with a knife) until a glorious, small round of tuna falls delicately to the plate, tuna on top, avocado at the base. Serve with Hendricks martini or perhaps a Manhattan. Goes well with late-night rerun of Anderson Cooper Live.