Recipe by Chris Weber/The Herbfarm, Woodinville, WA, from The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook by Ellen Jackson
This versatile dish requires some planning ahead, but the components can be prepared in advance, assembled and served warm or chilled, as either a starter or as a main course. The quality and flavor of the dish aren’t compromised when the components are made the day before serving, and the ingredients are readily available throughout the year in the Pacific Northwest.
Serves 8 as a first course, or 4 as a main course
1 albacore tuna loin, about 1-1/2 pounds, cleaned and cut in half lengthwise
24 baby potatoes (3 per person for a first course or 6 as a main course), scrubbed clean
2 pieces dried konbu kelp (large enough to wrap around the two halves of the tuna loin)
2 tablespoons sea sallt
2 small Walla Walla or other sweet onions
1 cup fresh sorrel leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
Kosher salt and white pepperSoak the konbu in cool water for 1 hour or until it is soft. Spread the konbu sheets out on a clean dry work surface and generously season both with sea salt. Arrange each half of the albacore loin on a sheet of konbu, lengthwise, and roll it up to completely encase the tuna. Place the loins on a cookie sheet or a jelly roll pan and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to one day.
When you are ready to prepare the dish, unroll the loins and slice into bite-size pieces, approximately 16 slices per loin or 32 total.
Dissolve the sea salt in 2 quarts of room temperature water. Arrange the potatoes in a pan wide enough to accommodate them in a single layer. Pour enough of the salted water over the potatoes to cover them and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium high heat. Cook until tender, then drain off all but 1/4-inch of the water and return the pan to the stove over high heat. Roll the potatoes around in the salt water until it evaporates completely and the potatoes are evenly coated in a salt crust. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the onions. Leaving the skin on, cut the onions in half from root to tip. Toss them with the canola oil, a generous pinch of salt and some fresh cracked white pepper and set aside for 30 minutes so that the salt can penetrate the onions.
Heat the grill and char the onions on all sides until they become tender, about 7 minutes. Remove the onions from the grill and allow them to cool to room temperature. When they are cool enough to handle, peel away the charred skin and cut the onion halves in half, from root to tip. Pull them apart so that you’re left with petals. Set aside 4 petals per person.
To make the sauce, place the sorrel leaves in a blender and pulse until they break down slightly. With the motor running on medium speed, slowly add the olive oil to the blender. Add a few teaspoons of water if necessary, to achieve the proper consistency, and season to taste with salt. The natural acidity of the sorrel makes the sauce vinaigrette-like.
To serve, place a spoonful of the sorrel sauce in the middle of each of the plates, using the back of the spoon to spread it around in a circle that coats the plate evenly. Alternate pieces of fish with the potatoes and onion petals and serve immediately. Slice the fish into bite size blocks, 4 per person, place on the plate in alternating directions. Place the potatoes in the spaces between the fish and garnish with the onion petals.