I first had a version of this dish on the big Island of Hawaii where it was made with ono and mahi-mahi. I loved it so much I wrote down the ingredients on a napkin so I would not forget the basic technique. A bit different from ceviche, the lime is only allowed to quickly penetrate the fish instead of cooking it. Dayboat scallops, ones not treated with chemicals, can actually be found in my local market! The additions of ginger and toasted nori are my touches. Sea vegetables are a thriving business on the Mendocino coast. The coconut technique is from Mark Bittman; so easy and money-saving. Poisson Cru is meant to be eaten right away; hence I made the recipe for just two. I believe the ingredients could be scaled up proportionally. —Amber Olson
grated unsweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups
dayboat scallops, cut into quarters if large
fresh lime juice
pinch of sea salt
peeled, seeded, and small diced cucumber
thinly sliced (shaved) sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Maui
medium ripe tomato, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
small serrano pepper with seeds, minced
thin slices of pickled ginger (preferably from The Ginger People brand), coarsely chopped
Make the coconut milk: Put the coconut and boiling water in a blender. Hold a towel tightly over the lid and pulse a few times to get it mixed up, then blend for a minute or so, redistributing the coconut if necessary. Pour into a strainer over a bowl, let rest a few minutes, then press down firmly on the coconut to extract as much milk as possible. The 1/2 cup you get will be fairly thick. Chill until cold. Measure out 1/4 cup for the final dish. (If you want to make more milk, put the coconut back into the blender, add another 1 1/2 cups boiling water, give it another blend, and proceed as above. The resulting milk will be less thick but have great flavor. I freeze it in cubes to add to smoothies, sauces, etc.)
Assemble the Poisson Cru: put the scallops in a stainless bowl, add the lime juice and a pinch of salt and combine. Refrigerate, stirring two or three times for 15 minutes. Drain off the lime juice, add 1/4 cup of the coconut milk and the rest of the ingredients except the nori and lettuce, to the bowl along with the scallops. Gently combine. Taste for seasoning. You might want more ginger, pepper, onion or zest. The nori will add the final salty note.
To serve: arrange the lettuce cups on plates, spoon on the poisson cru and sprinkle with toasted nori to your liking. Garnish with nori shards and cilantro sprigs. Consume immediately.