15 Aug2008


Eric Ripert is the Executive Chef at Le Bernardin in New York. Le Bernardin is one of the finest seafood restaurants in the world. And this is completely his recipe, from his book “A Return to Cooking” by Eric Ripert and Michael Ruhlmann. Eating at Le Bernardin is a very special experience, a fish lover’s equivalent to a meal at say, Per Se. And Le Bernardin goes back a good 15+ years, so it obviously has megawattage staying power in the sometimes fickle New York City restaurant scene… I have used this recipe a few times before, always with great results, for very special and festive meals, but it is actually quite easy to make at home.

But let me back up a bit. What was the occasion that warranted this and several other special dishes? Dinner with some friends and fellow bloggers, Mila, Katrina & F, Joey & C, Socky, a cousin, Mrs MM and myself. And The Kid had two friends K and G over as well. So there were a dozen of us in all. The last time we had dinner with these friends, Katrina professed an incredible weakness for foie gras and claimed since she couldn’t boil water to make tea (or something to that effect!), there was just no way she could ever cook foie gras from scratch. Which led me to suggest that we have a foie gras dinner sometime soon. Well, that foie gras dinner turned into a four course meal which included a tuna tartare to start, seared foie gras as a second appetizer, some Wagyu steaks, followed by a surprise pork dish. Katrina brought a chocolate cake for dessert. Socky et al underwrote the wonderful wines for the evening (and did a terrific write-up here)…


My photos for the evening were horrific, since I was crazed preparing the dishes. So you will just have to “imagine” the dishes and hopefully, the guests who were present at dinner will chime in with their impressions of each course, good or bad. :) To make this dish, you must buy the finest sushi quality tuna available… I made a morning trip to Seaside market in Baclaran to get a kilo or so of the finest tuna available. Keep the tuna well chilled until you use it. And do not keep it more than a day from the time you buy it (unless you freeze it, but I don’t recommend that).

First make a mustard vinaigrette: 3 teaspoons dijon mustard, 1.5 teaspoons sea salt, some ground white pepper to taste, 2/3 cup sherry vinegar, 1/2 cup good olive oil, 2/3 cup vegetable oil (canola) and shake vigorously until emulsified. You will have roughly 1.5 cups of vinaigrette. Separate out 1/2 cup of vinaigrette. Into the 1 cup portion of vinaigrette, add 1.5 tablespoons of chopped cornichons, 1.5 tablespoons of chopped capers and 1.5 tablespoons of chopped spring onions. You can do this an hour or two ahead of assembling the dish.

About 15-20 minutes before plating your appetizer, take 1 kilo of the finest sashimi quality tuna and cut it into small cubes, roughly 1/3 or an inch square. Place it in a large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of chopped cornichons, 1.5 tablespoons of chopped capers and 1.5 tablespoons of chopped spring onions and several dashes of tabasco, 3 tablespoons of dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro or wansoy and 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Toss gently with a fork to mix this all up. You MUST taste this to adjust seasonings to ensure it is not bland. Do not overmix, the tuna will turn brownish if aerated too much. It looks better if pink or red.

Next drizzle plain vinaigrette on endive leaves and plate as shown in the picture, alternate the tuna with endive and so on. Drizzle the vinaigrette with chopped cornichons and capers around the plate. Serve with warm bread. Utterly delicious. This recipe is good for 12. Sophisticated and yet relatively easy to make. A huge hit with sushi fans, but they are always surprised by the punch of mustard and tabasco and sharpness of cornichon and capers. For our dinner, I actually made 1.5 kilos worth of tuna for 12 and we managed to finish all of it. So even for those extra large servings, I think the total cost for this course was roughly PHP1,200 or roughly PHP100 ($2.30) per person (a similar dish at Le Bernardin? Probably close to PHP1,200 ($27) per person), so not bad for such a flashy starter!



  1. MrsKookie says:

    I wish we were friends too, just to sample this :) (even just the Kid’s) hehehe… It looks like a prelude to a great night with good food and company. I’m looking forward to reading your posts :)

    Aug 15, 2008 | 10:39 am


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  3. Rico says:

    MrsKookie and I share the same sentiment. ;(
    But I am looking forward to the wonderful posts to follow!

    Aug 15, 2008 | 1:37 pm

  4. joey says:

    I really liked this a lot (I usually like raw/dressed fish dishes)! The flavor was excellent and the sharp tang from the cornichons and capers really lifted the whole dish…but did not distract from the main event which was really that gorgeous tuna! The color was amazing!!!

    Aug 15, 2008 | 2:39 pm

  5. sonia says:

    MM – one of the reasons i love your blog is your writing about le bernardin, foir gras and the like with a s much enthusiasm, respect and delight as you do about a roadside bibingkahan, lechon, sinigang !

    Aug 15, 2008 | 7:44 pm

  6. two toasters says:

    MM, did you buy A Return To Cooking in Manila or abroad? i’ve been wanting to read it since i’m a big Eric Ripert fan (well, as big a fan as you can be without ever having tasted his food–admittedly, the adorable accent helps) and i just finished reading The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman, which i loved.

    btw, you should check out Eric Ripert’s blog, he posts videos of recipes made using a toaster oven. interesting stuff!

    Aug 15, 2008 | 7:49 pm

  7. kitkathie says:

    Hello, MM. Just right on time– my husband’s birthday is tomorrow and plans to serve it. Thanks for sharing MM.

    Aug 15, 2008 | 9:45 pm

  8. EbbaMyra says:

    Your plating and presentation of this dish is wonderful. You are on the class of famous chefs, I salute you.

    This dish reminds me of the famouns “P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wrap.”. Its patented nga and many resto try to copy the dish, pero they have to twick it.

    This dish represents your FoodBlog of being classy, eclectic, ordinary yet original, traditional and foreign.. should I continue?

    It has your mark Mr. MM, thanks for your continuing cooking and sharing.

    Aug 15, 2008 | 11:00 pm

  9. Mila says:

    Thinking back on this course, I recall the contrasts of flavors (not stark, but a nuanced blend, with the salty sour of the cornichons against the nutty bitterness of the endive carried by the creaminess and meatiness of the tuna…), and paired with a wine that helped keep our palates hungry for more. Or maybe it was Joey’s directives to train for this dinner! :)

    Aug 15, 2008 | 11:37 pm

  10. monica says:

    great flavor and very good presentation!the artistic way that you present your food is also very important. after all, you eat with your eyes first…

    Aug 15, 2008 | 11:51 pm

  11. estella says:

    great presentation!

    Aug 16, 2008 | 12:31 am

  12. Marketman says:

    estella,monica and ebba , I did the recipe as close to Mr. Ripert’s version as possible, including the plating. :) Mila, was the portion too small? :) kikathie, I hope the recipe works for your husband! two toasters, I think I got the cookbook in the States many years ago… Eric Ripert took over the Le Bernardin kitchen after the untimely death of Gilbert Le Coze, the owner who along with his sister, Maguy Le Coze opened Le Bernardin to brilliant reviews. But Ripert has continued with a stellar recipe line-up and he has added his own mark on the food… I have been lucky enough to dine there several times as a guest of others but I haven’t been there in a few years… Sonia, variety is the spice of life, right? And when it comes to food, upscale or homecooking, as long as it tastes brilliant, I am so there! Joey, I should have photographed the tuna before I sliced it, it was an amazing pink/red…

    Aug 16, 2008 | 9:13 am

  13. corrine says:

    Hi MM! Where can you buy cornichon in Manila? I’ve seen endives in Santis but I don’t think it’s always available.

    Aug 17, 2008 | 12:06 pm

  14. Katrina says:

    I thought this was a perfect way to start the dinner! Not just because it was probably the only non-artery clogging course, but it was as if the beautiful colors (I can’t stop looking at the photos above — the red against the green, with the yellow, plus the blue rim of the plate…so pretty!), the bright flavors, and the contrasting textures “woke up” our eyes and palates, so as to prepare it for what was to come. Such an elegant beginning!

    Aug 18, 2008 | 12:18 am

  15. Miguel says:

    Hmm Tuna tartare one of my favorites…do you have any steak tartare recipes?

    Aug 19, 2008 | 8:27 pm

  16. Miguel says:

    @Corrine – you can buy cornichons in Rustans rockwell.

    Aug 19, 2008 | 8:28 pm


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