Raw fish salad with a citrus dressing

Raw fish salad with a citrus dressing

Pesce crudo alla salsa di agrumi

Helen Cathcart

Raw fish has been eaten in Venice long before any sushi restaurants opened there. Our friend Arianna made me fresh sardines in the simplest way; cleaned and filleted and soaked in a little lemon juice, olive oil and salt. She left them for just five minutes and we ate them with our fingers. Simple and wonderful.

A raw fish platter is served at most restaurants in Venice, as fresh fish is always available. Dressings are pretty simple ranging from just oil and salt to citrus fruits or tiny piles of wasabi. Plates are decorated with pomegranate seeds, slices of orange and lemon, and nearly always chopped parsley and cracked pepper. At the Carampane restaurant we had swordfish, juicy red prawns that melted on the tongue and a strange looking local shellfish called canocchie, the mantis shrimp. In our restaurants we sell the freshest and most local fish we can find, usually Scottish salmon, fresh mackerel in season or smoked fish such as haddock. At home only serve raw fish if you know it is very fresh indeed.

This is Giancarlo’s dressing made from reduced citrus juice and a light olive oil, a Ligurian one is good so it won’t detract from the taste of the fish. Before serving, you can also scatter the fish with a handful of parsley, thyme and chervil, finely chopped, if you like. This recipe makes quite a bit of sauce, more than you need for the pesce crudo but it is lovely on green salad and keeps well in the fridge.


Quantity Ingredient
2 oranges, juiced
2 lemons, juiced
150ml light extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns, crushed, plus more to decorate
1 teaspoon caster sugar
500g fresh salmon fillets
rocket leaves
black peppercorns, freshly ground
or long peppercorns, freshly ground
or szechuan peppercorns, freshly ground


  1. Boil the juices in a saucepan and reduce by a third. Remove from the heat and leave to cool down. Add the olive oil, crushed pink peppercorns and sugar to the reduced juice and stir through. Season to taste. Slice the fish as thinly as possible (it helps to chill it briefly in the freezer before you slice it, but don’t let it become frozen). Lay the pieces of fish over a plate in a single layer. Stir the dressing and pour over the fish. Scatter over some pink peppercorns to garnish and the rocket leaves. Serve straight away with crusty bread.
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