Momo Turbot

By Sean Kenniff | Alexa Bendek


Sean Kenniff
Alexa Bendek
 Chef Nick Tamburo of Momofuku Nishi | New York: Whole Turbot and Sides
Chef Nick Tamburo of Momofuku Nishi | New York: Whole Turbot and Sides

Let’s get wild tableside, my friends. We hope classic, whole fish presentations are trending. At Momofuku Nishi, Chef Nick Tamburo sends out salt-crusted turbot with Italian-meets-Chang accoutrements. It sells for $140— Italian black truffle supplement, $32 for 6 grams. “We only offer three whole turbot a night and most nights we sell out,” says Tamburo.

“I think the whole turbot is intriguing yet approachable. The condiments are rooted in Italian cuisine but have a lot of Asian flavors and ingredients,” he says. “For me, it’s all about the outside of the fillet, where the fins connect to the body. The Japanese call it ‘engawa.’ It has a ton of fat and collagen and has a really amazing, rich texture.” And now for the rest:

1. Salt-crusted turbot: The side-eyed fish is presented in salt to the guests and then brought back to the kitchen, de-salted, deboned, and basted with brown butter. Tamburo: “Last summer we started thinking about a large format entrée— something celebratory and shareable. Momofuku has a long history of these kind of dishes. We wanted to do something in the vein of Noodle Bar’s fried chicken and Ssam Bar’s bo ssam, but with a little more technique and elegance. The whole set was inspired by a Mediterranean feast.”

2. Bibb lettuce: “The lettuce is a vessel for the fish, for making lettuce wraps to soak up all those natural juices and butter.”
3. Salsa verde: Made with green onions, ginger, lemon zest, parsley, fish sauce, white soy, and olive oil, this sauce is sharp—zippy even—and a snappy contrast to the brown buttered fish.
4. Caponata: With dried currants, garam masala, and Calabrian chiles, this Sicilian side doesn’t pull any punches. Also in there: eggplant (duh), tomato, fennel, red wine vinegar, honey, garlic.
5. Lemon: Squeeze it. Spray it. Love it.
6. Yuzukosho aïoli: More umami is always a good thing. So is mayo.
7. Chopped Calabrian chiles: Slather ’em on and fire it up.
8. Citrusy olives: “We marinate Castelvetrano olives in Spanish Arbequina olive oil (Molino la Condesa), citrus zest, and spices.”
9. Boquerones: Fresh and tangy taste of the Mediterranean, adding depth to the big fish.
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