Good news: You don’t have to turn on the stove or oven to cook something impressive. Crudos look and taste like they’re from a restaurant—with barely any effort. Unlike carpaccio, which is impossibly thin, or tartare, which is tediously chopped, crudo “implies no specific size, shape, or technique,” writes Brette Warshaw. In other words, you can’t mess it up. All you need is something raw, a splashy dressing, and a couple toppings. And that something raw doesn’t need to be fish: juicy fruits and vegetables are fair game. Now grab a knife and let’s crudo whatever is in your kitchen.
Choose a Main Character
Seafood is a typical suspect for crudos, and with good reason. Slivers of fatty tuna or buttery scallops beg to be doused in bright dressings. I used to be nervous about handling raw seafood at home but, this guide held my hand from start to finish.
Beyond fish, shaved zucchini, sliced plums, or halved Sun Golds can all take on the leading role. Milder tasting produce, like pears or carrots, allow loud dressings and garnishes (say, an anchovy vinaigrette or salty fried shallots) to really sing. This melon and avocado crudo gets an A+ for not only contrasting sweet and savory but also soft and crunchy.
Raid Your Fridge
After you find your star, there’s not much left to do. Even an unstocked fridge likely has everything you need to complete a crudo. That near-empty jar of capers and half shallot from yesterday’s dinner are your friends. For toppings think tender herbs, any allium (especially pickled red onion), fresh chile, tiny fruits like currants, or toasted nuts and seeds. And for dressings, scope out citruses, fruit juices, vinegars, or pickle brines.
Before you build the crudo, test drive flavor combos before making a decision. Maybe you’ll discover how naturally sweet rice vinegar highlights a nectarine’s floral fragrance. Or how tart red currants perk up rich salmon. Or how cucumbers shine in some leftover kimchi juice.
Don’t Skimp on Oil
Fat can make or break your crudo. While we’re all here for bright and zingy, hitting too many acidic notes could overpower the main ingredient. A fateful drizzle of oil—like olive, walnut, or sesame—rounds out the punchy ingredients, completing your crudo’s symphony.
If you’re feeling inspired, infuse the oil with spices or herbs. Sizzle some olive oil in a saucepan with whatever’s around: sliced Thai chiles, minced garlic, fresh rosemary, whole cumin seeds, chopped hazelnuts, you name it.
Time to Decorate
Once you’ve chosen your cast, it’s time to assemble. Thinly slice the main ingredients and finely chop the toppings. This is another opportunity to sample as you go. Is it missing salt? Too fruity? Too sour? Improvising makes the crudo experience rewarding. And since nothing gets cooked, more often than not, you can adjust anything you’re not a fan of.
When you are enamored with the flavors, grab a plate and get arranging. There’s no one right way to assemble a crudo, so pretend you are a kid in an art class. You can spread out each ingredient and dot each slice with a single garnish. Or you can shingle the ingredients into a colorful pattern. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
TLDR: Your Crudo Formula
Something raw + acid + oil + toppings
For example, try:
- Peaches + lime juice + sesame oil + Fresno chiles
- Cantaloupe + white wine vinegar + olive oil + olives and basil
- Plums + strawberry juice + walnut oil + jalapeños
- Scallops + rice vinegar + sesame oil + peanuts and mint
- Salmon + lemon juice + olive oil + capers and frisée