First of all, I can't take credit for this recipe. It must have been 2-3 years ago that Chef Ben Graham served this as a special at the Burgundy Room when Copper River Salmon was running - which just so happens to coincide with the beginning of radishes here in Central Ohio. His version had an array of heirloom radishes and some super peppery extra virgin olive oil. Mine has the only radishes available at this week's farmer's market and a slightly milder, but still delicious olive oil (Falconero).
Recreating this dish also provided an excuse to buy a new toy whilst out buying salmon at Tensuke market: a sashimi knife. What separates a sashimi knife is its long, thin blade, which is intended to slice through a block of fish in one clean swipe, creating perfect slices of sashimi. Some sashimi knives are sharpened only on one side, as is the knife I purchased, making it unsuitable for lefties. I'm sure somewhere there are left-handed sashimi knives. If you aren't going to be making sushi on a daily basis, you should be fine with the kind of inexpensive knife I purchased; should you desire something better, on the other hand, there's really no end to the amount you could spend on a "good" sushi knife (I believe Chef Kimura at Kihachi told us his sushi knife was upwards of $1000; that's what it takes to have your knife custom made by families who have been making samurai swords for hundreds of years).
So, now that I have a sushi knife, am I going to start making sushi? Maybe. I have owned a rolling mat and pressing box for about 10 years now. I'm not going to pretend I know anything about making sushi, but I might try my hand at it sometime soon.
This, of course, would not qualify as a traditional Japanese sashimi dish, although if you took off the olive oil and replaced the salt with soy sauce, it could pass. Of course, never in Japanese cuisine would you be served four slices of sashimi - something I thought of only after shooting the picture and consuming all of the dish. In Japan, even numbers are considered unlucky, especially the number 4, the name for which closely resembles the word for death (there are many sources for this, here's one from a company who assists expats).
This appetizer is so simple, yet very impressive - as with all simple things, you really must begin with the best ingredients. There is no room for shortcuts. I bought the salmon at Tensuke for several reasons - they probably have the highest turnover of any fish, anywhere, even if they don't have a traditional fish counter. They sell salmon, tuna, and yellowtail as sashimi, sold with a simple packet of wasabi and soy sauce. Furthermore, the fish is already trimmed into a block, so all you have to do when you get it home is slice it into thin slices - it might seem expensive by the pound, but there's zero waste (this block was $8 for about 6 ounces). Their pieces of big eye tuna were so beautiful when I was shopping yesterday, I might have to go back today and pick some up for dinner. Buy your salmon the day you plan to use it, and store it in the coldest part of your fridge. Wash your hands thoroughly before handing the fish.
Salmon and Radish Sashimi - serves 2 as appetizer
1 6 ounce block sashimi grade salmon - no skimping!!
3 large radishes, root end trimmed, sliced very thinly on a mandoline or Japanese Ceramic slicer (one of my favorite $25 kitchen tools)
daikon radish sprouts (also available at Tensuke or another Asian market)
Really good extra virgin olive oil
Slice the salmon with a very sharp knife, begin with the bottom of the blade (at about a 45 degree angle) at the corner of salmon block closest to you and slice in one continuous motion, through to the cutting board, bring the entire blade to the board. If desired, squeeze a tiny bit of lemon juice over the fish. Arrange the slices on a plate, alternating with radishes. Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and just a tiny bit of pepper. Place the sprouts in a small bowl and drizzle with a tiny bit of lemon juice and olive oil. Add a little salt and toss to coat. Add as garnish. We had this as an appetizer last night with a little sake in frozen shot glasses. The perfect spring starter or light lunch on a nice warm day.