Pesce crudo – Don’t call it Italian sashimi!

Pesce crudo (Italian for “raw fish”) and Japanese sashimi both rely on ultra-fresh seafood, but that’s where the similarities end. Italians near the coastline have been eating raw fish for a long time. In particular, fisherman with their returning catch helped themselves to some raw fish dressed with a little olive oil, lemon and salt for lunch. Sashimi, on the other hand, is really just about the fish, excellent presentation, and the tiniest amount of soy sauce and wasabi as an accent.

Nowadays, pesce crudo is all the rage in good Italian restaurants. Obviously finding ultra-fresh fish is key. But so is combining the right pairings with the fish – a good balance of extra-virgin olive oil and a little acid taste combined with some interesting texture to complement the silkiness of the raw fish.

Pesce Crudo

Here are three examples. The fun part of making pesce crudo is that there is no limit to the combinations! Since I don’t have access to Italian fisherman returning from the sea, I buy all this fish at my local Japanese supermarket (discard the soy sauce packet!).


Scallops with grapefruit, olive oil and flying fish roe (left)

Ingredients and Directions:

  • Diver scallops
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Grapefruit
  • Flying fish roe (provides a crunch)
  • Sea salt
  1. Chill serving plates
  2. Zest the grapefruit using a microplane zester.
  3. Peel the grapefruit by cutting off the top and bottom. Place it on a flat surface and cut down the sides of the grapefruit hugging the curve. Remove a couple of segments by cutting them out of their membranes.
  4. Pour a little extra-virgin olive into a small bowl. Add a couple of segments and gently stir them with a soup. The segments will fall apart and create tiny pearls in the oil.
  5. Taste the olive oil and add grapefruit juice and salt to taste. Look for the right balance of sweet, salty and bitterness. Just use your hand to squeeze juice from the peeled grapefruit avoiding any seeds.
  6. Slice the scallops horizontally into two or three slices and arrange in an overlapping pattern on the plate.
  7. Spoon a small amount of the grapefruit and oil mixture over the scallops. Top with a little grapefruit zest and top each individual slice with a tiny amount of flying fish roe.
  8. Eat!


Tuna with anchovy-garlic breadcrumbs and cured lemon peel  (center)

Ingredients and Directions:

  • Cured lemon peel (make 1 day ahead) – See this Bon Appétite recipe (Alternatively use lemon zest)
  • “Sashimi-grade” tuna (avoid bluefin tuna)
  • Panko breadcrumbs  (provides a crunch)
  • 3 or 4 anchovy fillets
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Lemon
  • Salt
  1. Chill the serving plates.
  2. Make the breadcrumbs. Toast the panko breadcrumbs in a dry sauté pan until evenly golden brown. Remove to a bowl and wipe out the sauté pan with a paper towel.
  3. Add some extra-virgin olive oil to the sauté pan and gently heat over medium-low. Add the garlic and anchovies and stir until the garlic is golden brown mashing the anchovies into a paste as you stir. Pour the anchovy-garlic infused oil over the browned breadcrumbs and stir in completely; breaking up any clumps. Let cool.
  4. Cut the tuna across the grain into slices of equal thickness and arrange on the plate in an overlapping fashion.
  5. Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and squeeze a bit of lemon over the top.
  6. Top with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs. Slice the lemon peel into very thin pieces and then chop. Top the breadcrumbs with the lemon peel.
  7. Eat!


Yellowtail with tangerine-infused olive oil, Hawaiian sea salt and micro-greens (right)

Ingredients and Directions:

  • “Sashimi-grade” yellowtail
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small tangerines
  • Hawaiian sea salt  (provides a crunch)
  • Packaged micro-greens (available at Trader Joe’s)
  1. Chill the serving plates.
  2. Zest two tangerines into a bowl using a micro plane grater.
  3. Add olive oil to the bowl and some tangerine juice to achieve a balanced flavor.
  4. Cut the yellowtail across the grain into equally thick slices and arrange on the plate in an overlapping fashion.
  5. Spoon a little of the infused olive oil over the fish. Sprinkle with the Hawaiian sea salt (this will provide some “crunch” too).
  6. Top with the micro-greens and eat!


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