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Caesarea Fish Tartare

March 18, 2021
Photo: Justin CovingtonPhoto: Justin Covington

One of my favorite places to visit in Israel in the 1970s was Caesarea, the ancient town built by King Herod. As a newcomer to Israel at the time, I’d drive down from Jerusalem on weekends to ride horseback on the beach, or daydream by the ancient Roman aqueduct. On Saturday afternoons, I’d eat at one of the few restaurants by the port, overlooking the glittering Mediterranean Sea.

Featured in: Raw Deal


  • 8ounces fresh fish, such as white Spanish mackerel, grouper, amberjack, or salmon, cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch cubes
  • Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
  • 1cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Generous pinch saffron
  • 1 ½cups chopped Italian parsley
  • ½jalapeño pepper, diced
  • 1cup roasted almonds, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • ½cup mayonnaise
  • 1cup baby spinach, cut in half
  • Salmon roe or caviar, to serve
Yield: 8 appetizer servings


  • Step 1

    Gently mix the fish with the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, a bit of the saffron, the parsley, jalapeño, almonds, and salt and pepper to taste. Let the fish sit while you finish the other components.

  • Step 2

    Soak the saffron threads in the remaining lemon juice for a few minutes, then stir into the mayonnaise.

  • Step 3

    Heat the remaining cup of olive oil in a saucepan or wok to 375 degrees. Add the spinach and fry until crispy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Use a spider strainer to remove from the oil and let drain on paper towels.

  • Step 4

    Slather some of the mayonnaise in the middle of serving plate. Arrange the fish mixture over the mayonnaise, then scatter the fried spinach over top. Smooth a spoonful more of mayonnaise on the side of the plate, then top with the salmon roe. Serve immediately with any remaining mayonnaise on the side.