Chefs are looking to ceviches and crudos as another way to express seasonality. They’re also seeing it as a way to feature textural and flavor contrast—all in a clean bite of pristine seafood. John Melfi, Executive Chef of The Oval Room, a modern American concept with cutting-edge flavor profiles, starts with sashimi-grade tuna, then switches out the garnishes with the seasons.
“Everyone loves tuna crudo. It is always a guest favorite—whether for lunch or dinner, in summer or winter,” he says.
The spring version combines blood orange, hearts of palm, lipstick radish, smoked trout roe and a yuzu emulsion. Other versions have included charred avocado purée, cucumber hearts, cilantro and ginger-soy vinaigrette, as well as a tartare version that was garnished with bonito ranch and a crispy tapioca chip seasoned with a housemade togarashi.
Melfi keeps three goals in mind when it comes to the crudo dish. “For one, it needs acid to help balance the fat in the tuna. Second, something crunchy like the pane fritto [fried bread] that isn’t mentioned on the menu, but is on the dish. Third, I like to make the dish as vibrant and colorful as possible, because you eat with your eyes first,” he says. “When the dish hits the table we get ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs,’ and the diner is that much more excited to eat it.”