What Is Crudo, Anyway?

Crudo is sushi unbound!

The quick answer is: Italian Sashimi. The detailed answer is that Crudo includes many of the same fish you enjoy at your favorite sushi bar. Instead of rice, seaweed and soy, the pairings are olive oils, citrus juices, sea salts and herbs. I first heard about Crudo on NPR. The book mentioned in that article, The Young Man and the Sea, is great introduction, though only has one chapter dedicated to Crudo. The rest of the book is a decent seafood tour though.

I’m a bit excited about crudo actually. This article is an overview of crudo and some examples of my early forays into serving. I’ll add more detailed serving tips and recipes. I’ve served sushi at home for years and have always enjoyed its creativity, style and flavor. Crudo however, holds many new opportunities:


It’s less complex to prepare crudo. I spend the bulk of my Sushi shindigs rolling maki and shaping rice, instead of kibitzing with guests. Crudo is more like sashimi than sushi, so the focus is on the fish and not the wrappings. Ingredients can be as simple as fish, salt, oil and lemon juice, so it frees up time during the serving process. That said, there is infinite room to be creative mixing fresh herbs, more ingredients and sauces. Most of these can be prepped ahead and arranged with the fish, just before serving.

Natural flavors

The mild flavors of raw fish blend well without the commonly used strong asian flavors. Crudo includes salts and citrus but these tend to enhance flavor vs. overpower it the way soy sauce and wasabi can. Oils, lemon juice, fresh herbs and nuts are the often accoutrements. I used each of these with the red snapper here. Additionally, I often prepare mild continental style side sauces like aioli, demi glace, balsamic reduction or an emulsion.

Vino vino!

Wines go really well with Crudo. I like sake and it compliments a sushi meal but pairing a Cabernet with soy and seaweed just doesn’t work for me. On the other hand, this fatty tuna with kosher salt, Sicilian olive oil, capers and shallots will melt in your mouth and welcome the Barolo that follows it.

1 comment to What Is Crudo, Anyway?

  • Mark

    I’m transferring to a new restaurant and wasn’t very familiar with crudo. This was perfect. Thank you for taking the time to share.

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