Salad: Friends Sushi Yuzu Ceviche Salad
I'll admit, I splurged a little on this lunch. It was a stressful day at work and the minute the idea of a sushi injection hit my brain it wouldn't leave. But sushi is clearly not a salad, as much as I'd like for it to be. So I hit the menu for Friends Sushi (one of our local sushi joints near work) to see if they had anything that might fit the bill that wasn't just lettuce and tomato liberally doused in ginger dressing. What you see above is one of their more moderately price options.
Ceviche is a personal favorite. It's a seafood salad found throughout Central and South America, where it originated (specifically, in Peru). The main components of Ceviche are some sort (or sorts) of fish marinated in some sort of citrus marinade. The marinade acts as a pickling agent, so the seafood still tastes fresh (re: raw) when you eat it, without giving you botulism. Obviously, the raw-cured-seafood element is right on parwith sushi, so this is a dish you now see popping up on menus at more progressive sushi establishments. I'm a fan because it reminds me of the fish escabeche my grandmother used to make and which I heartily love (although escabeche is, by definition, a cooked ingredient that's been pickled in a marinade of vinegar and herbs).
So what to make of Friends' Yuzu ceviche? Well I was expecting something more in the way of chirashi (diced up fish) in presentation, but I can't fault their fish; it was beautiful, fresh, and flavorful. The required citrus marinade wasn't a marinade at all, but a dressing to be poured on top of the fish and greens. I went ahead and did that and let it sit for a few minutes in the interest of making it more consistent with a traditional ceviche. The result: citrus explosions.
Yuzu, which, for some weird reason I had thought to be some sort of asian pear, is really a small and aggressive little citrus fruit commonly used in Japanese and Korean cuisine. The Wikipedia entry for yuzu describes it's flavor as, "tart, closely resembling that of the grapefruit, with overtones of Mandarin orange" and that's pretty dead on.
Wikipedia also makes mention of how aromatic pretty much every part of the plant is and boy they ain't kidding! I opened the little container of dressing and this fantastic, clean, sharp citrus smell poured forth.The flavor is also fantastic, clean and sharp. But overdo it and you're in for too much of a good thing. Several times while I ate I found myself wishing that the recipe called for something to tone down or balance out the yuzu-ness of it all. Towards the end It began overpowering the flavor of the fish and I was definitely ready to move on by the time I was done. Again, I am not a sour-flavor kind of girl, so for me, coming at it with minimal experience, It was a little overwhelming. Someone who is both a sour and citrus fan may well be in heaven.
Will I be having this again? For sure...when my wallet is up to it. You'll need to have some soup or rice with it to really feel full, but if you're looking for fresh flavor, you can't beat it. I'll probably be a little more cautious with the yuzu dressing, but that being said, I hope I can experiment more with this awesome little fruit.