Nobu is one of those NYC restaurants I’d wanted to visit but thought was a little fancy – out of my weeknight price range and over the top. Years ago, I used to make reservations for my boss at Nobu 57, infamous chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Midtown restaurant. I used a special “secret” phone number, although now I’m pretty sure it didn’t result in any special treatment because tables were always booked and difficult to get. One of the best restaurants in NYC, Nobu 57 as well as its downtown sisters Nobu and Nobu Next Door, is famous for its twist on classic Japanese food. One night, when we were deciding where to celebrate my birthday, Nobu came up. It was a special occasion and time, I decided, to try it out. Unlike many “top” restaurants in NYC, the mood at Nobu feels relaxed and comforting, and the food is truly top notch. Fresh and top quality seafood means that the the fish shines on its own; other ingredients and sauces just enhance the flavors. The best example of this is Nobu’s yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno.
If you can find sushi-grade yellowtail (I shop at Mitsuwa, an amazing Japanese grocery in Edgewater, NJ), this appetizer is the way to serve it. Thin slices of yellowtail are lightly dipped in minced garlic, then plated with razor thin slices of jalapeno and topped with a yuzu ponzu sauce. Each bite is smooth, with a citrus/soy tang and a crunchy jalapeno kick. If you’re nervous about serving raw fish at home, try lightly searing the piece of fish on all sides before slicing it.
Inspired by Nobu
- 2.5 ounces sushi-grade yellowtail
- 1 clove garlic*, finely minced or pureed
- 2 tablespoons yuzu juice* (or lemon juice)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 6 very thin slices of jalapeno* (less than 1/4 of 1 jalapeno)
- Cilantro leaves for garnish
- Slice yellowtail in six thin slices. This is easiest when the fish is very cold or even slightly frozen - pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes if you’re having trouble).
- Spread garlic over a small plate, set aside.
- Combine yuzu and soy, set aside.
- Dip each slice of yellowtail in the garlic and arrange on serving plate. Don’t try to use all the garlic - there should just be a slight coating on each piece of fish.
- Top each slice of fish with a slice of jalapeno.
- Pour yuzu soy sauce over fish, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.
*You’ll end up with some leftover garlic - really you could use half of a clove here.
*Slices from the end of the jalapeno will be more mild and get spicier as you slice toward the stem - I prefer using the most mild slices from the end so the spice doesn't overpower the dish.
*Yuzu, a small mandarin-orange-like fruit, can sometimes be found at asian markets. When I can’t find it, I use fresh lemon juice instead.