What Is Seacuterie – And Why Is It Having A Moment This Summer?
The quick summary
- Seacuterie is riding a new wave of popularity
- Fresh, healthy and great to share
- Ideal for busy kitchens – as it’s prepped well ahead of service
- A great way to freshen up your menu and thrill your diners
Imagine a sharing plate where salami is switched up for cured salmon, and terrines replaced with fine cuts of tuna.
You’ve just pictured the latest foodie trend sweeping Ireland – seacuterie.
This crowd-pleasing new concept adds a modern twist to the classic charcuterie board. It uses the same process of curing, but heavy meats and cheeses are banished. Light and summery seafood takes centre-stage instead.
The secret of seacuterie’s appeal
Seacuterie is popping up on more and more restaurant menus. And Sysco development chef Patrick Clement knows more about it than most. He’s also an expert at turning science and theory into a great plate of food – and while Patrick is clear that “you need skill and knowledge” to pull the dish off, seacuterie is made for busy kitchens.
The process takes time and care, but your efforts will pay big dividends. Teams can prep large volumes well ahead of service, lifting the stress off everyone’s shoulders. It can also be vacuum-packed and kept in the fridge, meaning it’s good to go for several days of restaurant service.
But before Patrick serves up his advice on creating an incredible plate of seacuterie, let’s hit rewind and find out how seacuterie rose from the abyss to become a great way to hook new customers.
Born in Brooklyn, loved worldwide
Seacuterie first entered the consciousness of chefs and critics back in the 1980s. Remember gravadlax – the cured salmon dish that’s been a staple in Scandinavia for centuries?
In the late 1980s, Brooklyn chef David Burke spun an American twist on the dish – pastrami salmon. Restaurant experts credit that dish with spawning a trend for innovative seafood, which is now building steam on restaurant menus across the globe.
But what’s behind its rise in popularity?
One aspect is the growing demand for shareable food. Sure, many of us still want to sit down for a traditional multi-course meal. But, there’s not much that beats a great glass of wine paired with a shared plate of really refined seafood. It’s quick, sociable – and perfectly in tune with busy lifestyles.
Patrick’s on the same wavelength. “In the summer, it’s great as a sharing plate, in the outdoors on a terrace with a glass of sauvignon blanc or chardonnay,” he says. “It’s beautiful with some nice salad or country-style bread.”
Freshen up your menu today
Patrick says seacuterie is still in its infancy in Ireland. So now’s the time to catch the wave.
Restaurants can get on trend in all kinds of ways. “You could use the salmon or tuna as a starter,” he says. “Freeze it, slice it thinly and put it on a plate with riccoloa salad or parmesan grated, maybe a horseradish dressing to go with it.
“You could include it on a shared plate – maybe with some BBQ’d smoked salmon too. It’s brilliant for bar food, gastropubs, hotels, restaurants and functions.”
So, there you have it. There’s a buzz around seacuterie. And as a hot (or should that be cold?) new trend, customers are prepared to pay a premium to try it. So don’t miss the boat this summer.
Bringing it to life
While there’s no fixed way to serve seacuterie – and every chef will want to put their own creative stamp on it – Patrick has two proven recipes that he swears by. And food lovers can’t get enough of them.
Salmon to float your boat
First up is the salmon portion of the seacuterie board. Patrick uses a fillet of salmon, which is skinned and boned. There’s not one, but two steps to the curing process.
Stage one uses salt and sugar and a mix of spices and zesty fruit juices, which the salmon soaks up for 24 hours. After that, things get sweeter.
He uses black treacle, along with some super-punchy spices, including ginger and lemongrass. All of it gets mixed in with the curing and the fish sits for another 48 hours. Once the texture feels right, it’s simply a case of rinsing the fish, drying it – and vacuum packing.
Like any curing process, there are some important rules to follow. Remember that your fridge needs to be at the optimum temperature.
While you’re not ‘cooking’ the fish in a conventional way, the curing process still makes it totally safe to eat. Bacteria need moisture and heat to grow. The salt and sugar soaks up the moisture and when you put it in the fridge, hey presto, you have safe food!
For Patrick’s salmon recipe, click here.
Now for the tuna…
Another delicious dish for your board is Patrick’s tasty tuna loin.
Here, the quality of tuna you choose will make the dish. Patrick recommends sashimi grade. You guessed it, it’s proper five-star fish.
This time, he uses a different sugar – demerera – to add some sugar and spice, and a fruity edge too. Other elements of the mix include salt, star anise, fennel seeds, coriander, lime juice, ginger, sesame seed oil and dark soy sauce.
This time, your tuna will soak up those flavours for around 60-72 hours.
For Patrick’s tuna recipe, click here.