Bubker Belkhit, head chef at the World’s End Market, on his signature tuna tartare dish with cumin mayo.
In Morocco, where I’m from, they eat aubergine salad on its own. I thought it would go well with the tuna tartare, but I needed something to make the flavours really come out so I made a cumin mayo to go on top. This is the kind of thing I like cooking; I bring different cuisines together and try to present them in a way that the English will love.
When it comes to thinking up new dishes I like to travel a lot and do plenty of research. I don’t like to be the same as everyone else so I always try to come up with something unexpected. Using fish instead of beef in a tartare is an example of this. Sea-bass is also good prepared in this way. This is my style as a chef: taking familiar dishes and presenting them in unusual and unexpected ways.
I trained twenty years ago in Russia, specialising in Japanese cooking. As long as you have an idea of what you are doing and what you want, it doesn’t matter what kind of cuisine you cook. We are living in a time when all cuisines are influencing each other. Japanese cooking is influenced by other cultures, such as Peru. The Japanese have even started to prepare tuna in the same way that the Italians eat parma ham, curing it for a long time and eating it in thin strips.
The menu changes frequently at the World’s End Market. Here we use 80 to 90 per cent English producers. We go for the small producers who take care and have a personal connection with their food, like the fishermen who let us know when they’ve got a good haul. We also have a shop – it’s more expensive than a supermarket but that’s because we always use British producers. The meat, for example, is English; we don’t do American meat. We want to bring UK flavours to the English people, so they know there is great produce here and you don’t need to bring it from outside.
Everything in the restaurant we make ourselves. Even the ketchup and mayo are made from our own special recipe. When you have fresh produce you don’t want to kill it with over-complication. Fresh produce and simple cooking. You want to keep it fresh – people like that.
DISH OF THE DAY
TUNA TARTARE WITH CUMIN MAYO AND AUBERGINE SALAD
■ Extra virgin olive oil
■ 3 medium aubergines sliced into 1cm thick round
■ 1 handful flat parsley
■ 4 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and diced
■ 1 teaspoon ground cumin
■ 1 teaspoon paprika
■ Sea salt and black pepper
■ 1 teaspoon vinegar
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan, add the aubergine and fry untill brown all over. Remove and place in a bowl.
- Add the parsely to the hot oil, reduce the heat to medium, add tomatoes, cumin and paprika. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and cook for 3 min.
- Add the aubergine to the pan and cook for 5-6 min, add the vinegar.
- Remove from the heat and wait for it to down to room temperature.
■ 150ml mayonnaise
■ ½ tbsp ground cumin
- Mix the mayonnaise with the cumin.
■ 300g yellow fin tuna
■ 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
■ lemon juice to taste
■ sea salt and black pepper
- Mix all the ingredients.
- Season to taste.
■ Place 3 to 4 tablespoons of aubergine salad on the base of the plate. Top with tuna and a dollop of cumin mayonnaise.
■Garnish with chives and flat parsley.