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Levantine Salmon Tartare with Pickled Fennel and Labneh
Levantine Salmon Tartare with Pickled Fennel and Labneh
Over 2 hours

Ravinder Bhogal of Marylebone restaurant Jikoni serves up her Levantine-inspired salmon tartare recipe, an ingenious seafood spin on the flavours of raw lamb kibbeh: "In the power-dressing 1980s, tartare was pretty much a mound of raw, chopped-up beef bound together with mustard, capers and chives, topped with a raw egg yolk. It was the preserve of the showy Wall Street set who liked status symbols and stuffy restaurants. Thankfully, over the years, tartare has been reinterpreted in different ways, with ingredients as varied as tuna and tomatoes. This spiced version is inspired by the Levant, where it is normally made with raw lamb. I’ve used delicate salmon for a bright, refreshing dish, pairing it with a brazenly acidic pickled fennel and luscious labneh, rather than the traditional egg yolk. You’ll need to make the labneh in advance – but if you’re short of time, you could just use 4 tablespoons of thick yoghurt or ready-made labneh instead."

Jikoni: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from an Immigrant Kitchen (Bloomsbury Publishing, £26) is out now. Photography by Kristin Perers.

Recipe courtesy of
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Sumac, small mint leaves and pomegranate seeds, to garnish

For the labneh

  • 125g yoghurt
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Generous pinch of salt

For the pickled fennel

  • 250ml cider vinegar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely shaved
  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced

For the tartare

  • 500g very fresh salmon fillet, skinned and pin-boned
  • 50g bulgur wheat, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes
  • 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
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  1. For the labneh, mix together the yoghurt, garlic and salt. Line a bowl with a large square of muslin and spoon in the yoghurt. Gather the corners of the muslin and knot together, then tie to a rack in your refrigerator, placing the bowl underneath to catch any drips. Leave to drain overnight. 
  2. For the pickled fennel, combine the vinegar and sugar in a small non- reactive saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir through the spices, then leave to cool. Add the fennel and onion, pour into a glass bowl or jar and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Make the tartare on the day you want to serve it. Use a large sharp knife to finely chop the fish – it may be worth putting it in the freezer for half an hour beforehand to make this easier. In a bowl, combine the salmon with the well-drained bulgur wheat and the remaining ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper, then cover and refrigerate until chilled. 
  4. Divide the salmon tartare into 6 equal portions. Place a pastry ring on a serving plate and spoon a portion of tartare into it, then remove the ring. Repeat with the rest of the tartare. Top with the pickled fennel and a spoonful of labneh, then drizzle with olive oil. Finish with a scattering of sumac, mint leaves and pomegranate seeds. Serve at once.

The Pass was created to help the many people now struggling to feed themselves and their families as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. If you like or use this recipe, please consider making a small donation to Hospitality Action to help those whose livelihoods have all but disappeared.

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