Don’t you love dishes that look and taste like what you get at posh restaurants, but they’re actually easy and really great value to make? At a restaurant in Sydney, this would cost at least $60 – probably more!
I wish I could pass out samples of this through my computer screen so you can taste it. I really hope that you try this at least once in your lifetime because I promise, it is something really special.
The combination of finely chopped raw tuna, sweet juicy lychees, creamy avocado and the zing from lime is magical. It’s fresh but creamy, light but indulgent, sweet but tangy. The softness of the tartare makes it perfect for piling onto crunchy crostini. Every single bite is just heaven.
And it’s so easy to make. And I know you don’t believe me, but it’s incredible value too! The two “expensive” ingredients in this are the sashimi-grade tuna and lychees.
But here’s the thing. You don’t need much of them! Seriously. That generous pile you see in the photo above is made with just 200g/7oz of tuna and 7 lychees. All the ingredients for this recipe cost me A$17 (A$17.65, to be exact), and it serves 4 to 6 as an appetiser. I’m in Sydney, Australia, which is one of the most expensive cities in the world, so chances are it will cost you less (relatively speaking).
Just look at it! The soft tartare piled on crunchy crostini….You want to reach in and grab a piece, don’t you? Come on, admit it!! 😉
The lychees. That’s what takes this from yummy to extra special. You don’t need much, a little goes a long way because they’re so juicy and sweet.
When I start seeing lychees, I know summer is just around the corner. Do you know what lychees are? They are slightly smaller than a golf ball and have a blush red rind. They’re easy to peel and the flesh is white and very juicy. It tastes like a grape – but better. Much better!
Aren’t they beautiful? So pretty!
It’s funny how particular foods bring back memories. Lychees always reminds me of rafting trips. I have a crazy adventure-girl friend who roped me into a rafting trip down the crocodile infested Fitzroy River in the Kimberly’s (way out in the isolated outback of Western Australia). I have one particular memory of a crocodile resting on a rock in the middle of a rapid we had to go down and I was absolutely convinced I was going to be hurled into the water and eaten alive. That’s me on the left in the raft on the photo below. Clinging onto the raft for dear life while the boys did all the work! 😉
I was also convinced that I would be a midnight snack for crocs. We’d shine our head torches onto the river and see dozens of red eyes (being our torches reflecting off the crocodile eyes). So creepy! So I made sure to camp well away from the edge of the river, somewhere I was convinced the crocs could not get to. Like in the photo above – up nice and high on a rock!
I know you’re wondering what on earth this has to do with lychees! Well, put it this way. Now that I’ve described how “hard core adventure” this trip was, is it any surprise to you that we celebrated surviving every day on the river with lychee cocktails? 😉
We didn’t have fresh lychees. We had to take all our food for 3 weeks, cookware, personals, sleeping gear, not to mention safety gear on rafts and we were in 104F/40C+ scorching heat every day. Fresh lychees would not have survived 30 minutes!
So we had to make do with tinned lychees, but they were nowhere near as delicious as fresh ones and our daily cocktail sessions would have been made that much better had we been able to enjoy beautiful lychees, fresh from the tree!!!
PS Seriously. As a girl. Do you know how HARD it was to pack for this trip? You see those red waterproof bags below? We each shared one of those for our personals. Including sleeping bags! For THREE weeks!!
PPS For the Aussies reading this, don’t you just love that we somehow “found room” for a couple of cases of VB? 😉
So every time I see lychees, it reminds me of that trip. And the other standout memory from that trip is freshwater barramundi (“barra”!). Freshwater barra is pretty darn special because it’s only found in a few remote areas in Australia. High end restaurants in Sydney pay an absolute fortune for fresh (rather than frozen) freshwater barra.
Well, let me tell you. Sunset and sundown, there were schools of giant barramundi rushing down the river and the guys were catching them as quickly as they could reel them in. It was a sight to see, that’s for sure!!
Suffice to say, we were enjoying fresh barra for breakfast, lunch and dinner. YES we had sashimi!! We even had soy sauce and wasabi with us in the hope of catching barra!!!
So this Tuna Tartare with Lychees recipe I’m sharing today is inspired by this incredible rafting trip in the Kimberly’s. Sashimi grade freshwater barramundi is a premium fish that’s generally not available to ordinary folk like me, it’s reserved for posh restaurants. So I used tuna, which is much more readily available.
But you can make this with any sashimi grade fish you want. It just has to be sashimi grade fish, which means fresh, fresh, fresh!!! Most fish mongers have a sign indicating which fish are sashimi-grade. If not, just ask them which fish are “sashimi-grade”.
I feel like I say those words a lot to my local fish monger. I’m sure he will agree. 😉
I hope you enjoy! – N x
- 200g/7oz sashimi grade tuna (or any other sashimi grade fish) (Note 1)
- 7 lychees, fresh (Note 2)
- 1½ tbsp large red chili (not a spicy one), very finely diced (Note 3)
- ¼ cup red onion, very finely diced
- 1½ tbsp coriander/cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
- 3 tbsp lime juice, plus extra
- ½ small avocado, diced (~ ½ cup)
- Salt and pepper
- Sliced sourdough baguette, toasted
- Extra coriander/cilantro leaves
- Lime wedges
- Freeze tuna for 20 minutes - just to firm. Slice into 3mm / ⅛" strips, then cut those strips into 3mm / ⅛" cubes. Place in a bowl.
- Peel the lychees, then finely dice the flesh and add into the bowl (Note 4). Scrape the juices that pool on the cutting board into the bowl too - don't waste a drop!
- Add the chili, onion and coriander, olive oil and lime juice into the bowl. Season with a generous pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper.
- Use your fingers to toss together gently. Taste and adjust olive oil, lime and salt to taste.
- Pile on a platter, top with avocado and garnish with coriander/cilantro leaves. Drizzle with more olive oil. Serve immediately (Note 5), with toasted bread and extra lime wedges.
This recipe is great with tuna, salmon and kingfish. I used tuna because I love the colour contrast with the lychees.
For those living in the Ryde area which is where I get my sashimi-grade fish (via my mother who delivers it to me!), the fish monger at Top Ryde is incredible value. It's very high quality and it is FAR cheaper than the fish markets. The tuna I used cost $30/kg ($15/lb). Can you believe that?? Insanely cheap.
Another great place to get good value sashimi-grade fish is the fish monger at Hornsby Westfield. These are pretty much the only two places I get sashimi-grade fish from in Sydney simply because they are great quality AND great value. However, for convenience, I do get sashimi-greade fish from the fish markets too. Just not very often because it is more expensive!
2. Show yourself some love and use FRESH lychees for this, not canned! The difference in flavour between fresh and canned is quite amazing. But if you are dying to try this and it's not lychee season where you are, canned lychee does work for this. 🙂
3. You can use any red chili you want. I use the large ones that are not very spicy. It adds the tiniest hint of spiciness into this dish.
4. This is how I cut lychees: Peel the lychee. Then stand it upright and cut down the sides of the pip in the middle. I cut it like I cut mangoes!
5. This needs to be served immediately, not only because raw fish shouldn't be left out but also because the acidity in the lime will start to "cook" the tuna (like what happens with ceviche) and the salt draws moisture out of the tuna, making it less juicy.
6. Fresh lychees last 2 to 3 days without refrigeration, or 5 to 7 days refrigerated. Wrap them in plastic - I put mine in ziplock bags.
With thanks to Aussie Lychees
When Aussie Lychees approached me, asking if I’d like to receive a box of fresh lychees, I replied “YES!!” as fast as I could type. Who in their right mind would turn down an offer like that? 😉
Then they asked if I had any stories to share about lychees and if I would be interested in creating a recipe for them. I couldn’t believe my luck! 🙂 Making up a yummy recipe using fresh Australian lychees AND getting to chat about my trip?? So I hope you enjoyed reading about my crazy rafting trip in the Kimberly’s and I didn’t turn you off visiting the outback of Australia!!!
And get yourself some lychees while they’re in season! Go on – you DESERVE it. Even if you don’t make this tartare, make yourself a cocktail!!!
And show me what you use the lychees for! Find me on Instagram and tag your lychee creations -> #recipetineats #metimemoments #aussielychees #lovefromlychees