Since the first human caught a fish and realized it was edible, people have had to figure out how to eat it now and how preserve the delicate flesh for eating later. Smoking, drying, or curing (and sometimes all three) were used to by migrating tribes as a means to carry their bounty with them. Several ways of eating raw fish in the moment also evolved; sushi, sashimi, ceviche, carpaccio, and crudos are just a few. Whether a simple sashimi with a splash of soy sauce or a classic ceviche covered in citrus juice, cooks always strive to make it different and better. Two methods, gravlax and crudo, give us options at opposite ends of the spectrum for enjoying raw fish at its finest.
Crudo’s origins lay with the fishermen of the Mediterranean who would often eat their catch fresh out of the sea with nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of sea salt. Today crudos have evolved into mini works of art on a plate typically with colorful ingredients and splashes of color and texture.
Crudo means “raw” in both Spanish and Italian and technically the fish is not cured, but rather, simply served raw and often embellished with other ingredients to enhance the flavor. Think of crudos as being more of flash marinated than “cured”, and closer to sashimi and carpaccio than gravlax. They are also different from ceviche which is covered in citrus juice and left to marinate long enough so that the acid in the juice “cooks” the fish.
It’s easy to think crudos and sashimi are both one in the same. Both are raw, but while sashimi is raw fish at its purist and plain with not much more than a dab of wasabi, crudo is defined by the quality of the ingredients which are there to complement and enhance the simple raw fish. Typically there is some sort of oil and an acid (citrus or vinegar) used to dress it which helps to bring out the flavor of the fish.
Some tips for preparing raw fish crudos:
- It’s all about the quality of the fish, when eating fish raw always select the highest quality, freshest fish you can find.
- Use the highest quality ingredients you can find; look for the best extra virgin olive oil and the freshest vegetables and herbs.
- Prepare all your cut ingredients in advance and keep the fish in the refrigerator until you are ready to cut and serve it immediately.
I’ll have another crudo to share in a future post. Tell me, do you like your fish raw, or will you only eat it cooked?