Edible Beauty: Fluke Crudo
Just when I think I know all of its secrets, New York never ceases to surprise me. A few days ago, chef de cuisine at Miller’s Near & Far, Jacob Bensley, led us an a mission to SOS Chefs in the East Village. On Avenue B between 6th and 7th past an unassuming storefront lies a cavern of delicacies. Spices, teas, grains, beans, mushrooms–both dried and fresh–and much, much more are displayed in simple clear canisters on inward leaning shelves. In addition are amber colored bottles filled with the oils and essences that proprietor Atef Boulaabi distills from her high-end and hard to find global ingredients.
The scents of verbena and turmeric, dates, roses, saffron, nigella and peppercorn waft through the slender store, and the radiant Atef warmly offers tastes of her concoctions. She dabs bergamot essence onto my pressure points to calm my nerves and gives me a fresh California laurel leaf to inhale its perfume. I’m intrigued by Ylang Ylang essence and espellette jelly, which Atef opens a bottle of so that I may try it.
Meanwhile, Chris, owner and executive chef of Miller’s Near & Far, and Jacob, chef de cuisine, explored the walk in’s selection of fresh mushrooms. We leave, calm as can be, with a few delicacies (cherry pit oil and malt salt) and inspiration to create new dishes and cocktails.
Chris wanted to put a summer crudo on the menu and Long Island fluke is the winner. Chef Jacob found some young pea shoots at the Union Square Green Market and is obsessed with his fried minced garlic. Add the subtle cherry pit oil – first surprising with a marzipan wave and then lingering with a cherry finish, and a lovely blush colored summer dish is born. Delicate slices of fluke, either from the fillets or from the tail meat (we don’t waste an ounce!), garnished with house made cherry vinegar, sliced cherries and pistachios.
Fluke Crudo Ingredients
Long Island fluke, tail pieces or fillets, thinly sliced
toasted pistachio, crushed
fried minced garlic
young pea shoots
sour cherry vinegar
cherry pit oil from S.O.S.
fresh basil oil
fresh wasabi, finely grated
fresh cherries, thinly sliced
For the vinegar: Steep mashed cherries (pit and all) in a simmering red wine vinegar. Let sit for a week.
For the garlic: Mince garlic cloves and pan fry in vegetable or canola oil. Drain.
For the fresh basil oil: Blanch fresh basil for 30 seconds or less. Shock it in ice water. Blend with canola or olive oil until completely smooth.
Arrange the fluke in one layer of just overlapping slices. Add sea salt flakes and a few drops of lemon juice. Garnish with young pea shoots, fried minced garlic, toasted pistachio, and a few drops of the cherry pit oil (a little goes a long way), and the gentlest dusting of fresh grated wasabi. Carefully add the cherry vinegar and basil oil to the perimeter. Serve and eat immediately.
Miller’s Near & Far
65 Rivington St., between Eldridge & Allen
New York, NY 10002
104 Avenue B
New York, NY 10009
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