Albacore Tartare: A ceviche-style take on the restaurant staple that's simple enough to make at home

Still a little squeamish about raw fish? John Bil’s fresh, citrusy starter might just win you over.

Still a little squeamish about raw fish? John Bil’s fresh, citrusy starter might just win you over

(Photography by Rick O'Brien)

Tuna tartare has often been one of those appetizers we gravitate to when dining out, but feel too intimidated to try making it at home. Well, that’s all changing with this simple recipe by John Bil, the late, great seafood aficionado and Toronto restaurateur, from his posthumously-released cookbook Ship to Shore: Straight Talk from the Seafood Counter. Made with citrus, spices and raw tuna, then served ceviche-style for easy scooping and sharing, it’s just the kind of starter you need for summer — whether you’re spending yours hosting pals on the patio, or in the kitchen expanding your recipe repertoire.

Albacore Tartare

By John Bil

Tartare is a very simple way to prepare raw fish. Now widely used in restaurants, albacore tuna has replaced the less readily available and more expensive bluefin tuna, so it’s pretty easy to find. Ginger and lime provide a lovely fresh flavour, making this the ideal starter for a summer dinner.


  • ¼ cup crystallized turbinado sugar
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • Juice from 1 small chunk of peeled ginger
  • 1 cayenne pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves, stems, and roots finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
  • Salt, to taste
  • 300 to 400 g (10.5 to 14 oz) albacore tuna loin, cut into ½-cm (¼-inch) cubes


In a bowl, combine sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, ginger juice, diced cayenne pepper, chopped coriander, and minced garlic. Mix together using a metal spoon, occasionally crushing mixture against the side of the bowl to release more flavour. Taste and add salt, if needed. Add cubed tuna and stir gently. Taste. If acidity is low, squeeze a bit more lime juice into the mixture. Serve with small toasts.

Yield: Serves 4-6 as an appetizer

Excerpted from Ship to Shore: Straight Talk from the Seafood Counter, copyright © 2018 by John Bil. Reproduced with permission from House of Anansi Press, Toronto.


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