Misoyaki Wild Salmon

Me so hungry for miso salmon.

Me so hungry for miso salmon.

This is a version of that ubiquitous sushi joint staple, misoyaki black cod, popularized with a vengeance at Matsuhisa restaurant here in LA (and at over thirty other affiliated restaurants internationally) by famed Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa. It’s Nobu’s signature dish, and the impact of his influence is felt in nearly every sushi bar in American, where some version of miso-marinated broiled fish is on virtually every menu. And for good reason as it’s damn good — sweet, salty, tender, and rich. It can feel fancy or it can be served very simply, almost rustically. It makes a great lunchtime or dinnertime main course, or it can go alongside other Asian dishes for a larger spread.

I love to make it with black cod, of course, or butterfish or ling cod or Chilean seabass or pretty much any other fish that is either delicate or has a decent fat content. I was initially going to make this with black cod, but I found some beautiful and very fresh wild salmon and decided to go with that instead.

I deviate from Nobu’s original recipe by adding a bit more flavoring to the marinade; if you know me you know that I can’t resist tinkering with classics in the hopes of finding greater complexity and depth of flavor — hence the addition of ginger and garlic and salt and pepper. I recommend marinating the fish for at least six hours, so make the marinade in the morning and drop the fish in. By dinnertime you’ll be good to go. If you really want to plan ahead you could marinate the salmon overnight, although I wouldn’t go for two days as the sodium in the marinade could dry out the fish and make the miso flavor too assertive.

Serve this with steamed white rice and maybe some stir-fried bok choy or other Asian greens. I also recommend having on the side a little soy sauce and something spicy like sambal oelek or sriracha.

What you need:

  • 1 pound wild salmon filet, skinned with pin-bones removed
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 tablespoons sake
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup shiro miso paste (very pale yellow “white” miso)
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2/3 cups of chopped scallions (as a garnish)

What you gotta do:

First cut the salmon filets into four evenly-sized pieces. Place the filets in a flat plastic container with a lid or a glass pan that you can cover with plastic wrap; use anything except a metal container that could be potentially reactive (i.e. aluminum). Also, choose your container wisely; you want the fish to be snug in whatever container you choose so that the fish is nestled in and covered fully by the marinade. Refrigerate fish while you make the marinade.

In a small pot mix the mirin, sake, and water. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling and add the sugar, whisking until it dissolves. Turn off the heat and whisk in the miso, ginger, garlic, salt, and white pepper. Transfer the marinade to a bowl and allow it come to room temperature. Pour marinade over the fish and turn pieces to fully coat with the miso. Cover and refrigerate.

Now wait patiently a few hours. To cook turn on your broiler and set the oven rack about six inches away from the heating element, be it flame or electric coil. Remove the fish from the marinade and place on a sheet pain that been very slightly oiled. Any excess marinade you can pour into a small pot and bring quickly to a boil. Turn off heat. Now you can use the marinade to baste the fish.

Put pan with salmon into the oven and broil for about three minutes. Remove fish from oven and, using a pastry brush, baste fish with more marinade. Return the fish to the oven and broil for another two or three minutes, approximately. You want the edges slightly charred, so when that occurs remove the salmon and prod it to check for doneness. I like it cooked through but very tender and a bit rare. Touch it with your finger — the flesh should have some softness to it. If you suspect it’s not cooked enough to your taste, turn the oven off and return the fish to oven. Allow it to cook with the oven’s residual heat until it’s firmer and more to your liking.

Transfer fish to a platter and serve dinner!

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Super-succulent salmon served for supper. Say that five times fast!

Tapas Partay!

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A little blurry, but oh, what a spread!

Last week Regina and I had a couple of great friends over for an early dinner. Well, all dinners are early when you have an infant, but luckily our friends are obliging and understanding. Of course when I put out a spread like this of course they are obliging! Mitch supplied the wine and Stef made a excellent blueberry pie to finish the meal with.

Starting from the bottom left and travelling a meandering path up the table in a vaguely clockwise direction the dishes are as follows: garlic aioli with a touch of saffron, garlicky sautéed mushrooms, paprika-dusted fried chicken wings, roasted purple cauliflower with shallots and a hit of sherry vinegar, marcona almonds, pickled peppadew peppers (say that five times fast!), lightly sweetened olive oil crackers (in the wax paper), assorted olives, patatas bravas (crispy fried potatoes), grilled lamb riblets, grilled ribeye with roasted garlic, lobster with saffron sofrito, grilled bread for pan con tomate, membrillo (Spanish quince paste), assorted cheese platter including cabrales, idiazabal, some kind of hard Basque cheese that I’ve forgotten the name of, and some nice Spanish chorizo (not to be confused with the Mexican stuff), clams with garlic and white wine and diced chorizo, and finally at the bottom right a plate of hand-shaved slices of one of the world’s great cured meats — Jamon Iberico “pata negra” — a dry-cured ham made from these cute little black pigs that feast on acorns.

Eating like this — with a wide assortment of small plates with complementing and contrasting flavors and textures and colors — is so enjoyable and delicious and fun and communal that I wish we could feast like this every night! I’d be 300 pounds, but I’d be happy as a clam cooked with white wine and chorizo.

Grilled Tempeh & Portobellos

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Very vegan and very delicious.

In the course of my work I’m frequently called upon to make vegan dishes for guests and my coworker Ian (nicknamed Vegan Boy). Here’s one I knocked out the other day, on a whim, and it came out pretty spectacularly, if I may say so myself.

I bought a slab of tempeh, a staple vegetarian food stuff originally from Indonesia, which is a cake of pressed fermented soy beans. Because of its dense, hearty character tempeh makes for a decent meat substitute and can be quite tasty marinated in something flavorful and then grilled.

First I sliced the tempeh into slices about a half-inch thick. I whisked up a marinade composed of about a quarter cup of ponzu sauce, a quarter cup of olive oil, some minced garlic, a little minced marjoram, a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar syrup (a reduction of simple balsamic vinegar from Modena with some sugar added to it), and some salt and pepper. I coated the tempeh slices with the marinade and let it sit for about an hour.

I cut a portobello mushroom into thick slices and marinated those as well. Meanwhile I roasted some broccoli florets in a skillet until a little charred. I also warmed a little homemade tomato sauce in a small pot.

I grilled the tempeh and mushrooms until hot and lightly charred. I put three slices of the tempeh on a sheet pan, topped the tempeh with grilled mushrooms, and then topped the ‘shrooms with a slice of “pepper-jack flavored” soy cheese. I popped the sheet pan into a hot oven (think 400ºF) for about five minutes until the “cheese” melted. I pulled out my vegan creation and pulled out a nice plate.

In the center of the plate I put a little pool of that homemade tomato sauce (a decent store-bought version like Rao’s or Giorgio Baldi’s might work). And then with a spatula I placed my little cheesy tempeh-mushroom creation in the center of the pool. I topped the cheese with some of that roasted broccoli and drizzled a little more balsamic syrup around the vegan grub.

It was damn tasty. At least that’s what Vegan Boy said.

Grilled Short Ribs + Bacon Grit-Cake + Chinese Broccoli + 5-Spice BBQ Sauce + Creamed Corn Sauce

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I was feeling the fusion when I thought up this dish!

I made this dish a few weeks ago and now I’ve finally gotten around to posting a picture of it. You’ll have to excuse me; what with work and the new(ish) baby and holidays and travel I’ve been hard-pressed to find time to post about anything! But I’m trying to rectify all that and hopefully I’ll be able to pump out a few decent posts in the next week or two.

Anyway, this dish represents a rare fusion-y dish for me. I was striving for an Asian-slash-Southern-US dish, with some Chinese broccoli subbing in for collards and a barbecue sauce spiked with sriracha and Chinese five-spice powder.

I won’t take the time to go into all the minute details, but I’ll give you the broad strokes. If you really need more detail send me a comment and I’ll give you what you need.

• First I braised some short ribs (on the bone) in homemade beef broth and xao xing (Chinese cooking wine) with some shallots and garlic and ginger in a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid. They took about three hours to cook at 300°F. I let the short ribs cool and then I removed them from the liquid and refrigerated them until they were cold.

• I then sliced nice slabs from the cold short ribs, removing any bone, connective tissue, and excess fat. I allowed the meat to come to room temperature before finishing the dish.

• While the short ribs were braising I made a basic red barbecue sauce (ketchup, mustard, vinegar, molasses, sugar, spices, etc.) and added a nice dose of sriracha for heat and a big tablespoon of Chinese five-spice powder.

• I then threw together a simple grit-cake by cooking white grits according to the package directions and when cooked, mixing in chopped cooked bacon, grated cheddar cheese, butter, chives, and some salt n pepper. I poured the cooked grits onto a small sheet pan lined with oiled parchment paper. I cooled the grits in the fridge until firm and then cut it into rectangular slabs.

• And then I made a sauce from some leftover creamed corn. I thinned out the creamed corn, cooked it until hot in a small saucepan, and then pureed it hot in a blender at high speed. While the creamed corn was blending I added a tablespoon of cold butter and a pinch of sugar. I poured the creamed corn through a coarse strainer and then set the sauce aside.

• Finally I blanched in salted boiling water a big handful of chopped gai lan Chinese broccoli. I cooled the par-cooked greens in an ice bath and then drained them.

To finish the dish I did the following.

• First I crisped the grit cake in a hot skillet until brown on one side. I flipped it and browned the other side.

• Next I sauteed the gai lan in some butter and kept it warm off the side.

• I heated a grill-pan and then lightly oiled the short rib slabs. I seasoned the short ribs with plenty of salt and pepper and then grilled them until I had nice grill-marks on both sides. I basted them with a little of the bbq sauce.

• I warmed the creamed corn sauce in a very small pot on the stove while I assembled the dish.

• I placed the gai lan in the center of a warmed plate. I topped the greens with a cooked bacon grit-cake. I placed two slabs of short ribs on top of that and then drizzled the warm creamed corn sauce around the plate. I dabbed more bbq sauce over the meat and then drizzled a few decorative swirls of bbq sauce on the plate. I topped the meat with a little chopped scallions as a garnish and then I ate the WHOLE THING!!

Today’s Lunch: Chicken Piccata

A light, simple lunch.

I cranked out this tasty lunch the other day at work and my peeps loved it! I cooked some chicken breasts and made a simple piccata-style sauce to spoon over the top. I served it with some crispy little yukon gold potatoes and a salad of romaine, arugula, tomato, red cabbage, spinach, cucumber, crumbled egg, and a little manchego cheese.

Typically chicken or veal piccata starts with cutlets that are breaded with a little egg and flour mixture, but in the interest of keeping it lighter I eschewed that step and simply sautéed the chicken breasts. The tart and zesty drizzle is an herbed lemon-caper pan-sauce made in the same skillet the chicken was cooked in, which allows it to pick up some of those flavorings left in the pan from the chicken.

I’m not going to write out the recipe, I’m just gonna throw it at ya! I’m gonna move fast.

I preheated the oven to 350ºF and then I heated a non-stick, oven-ready skillet over high heat. I generously seasoned three chicken breasts with salt and pepper. When the pan was super-hot I swirled in about two tablespoons of vegetable oil. I added the chicken breasts and browned one side (about three minutes) and then flipped them. I cooked the other side another couple of minutes and then threw the pan into the oven. I baked the chicken for another five minutes and then pulled out the pan from the oven.

I took the chicken out of the pan and put the breasts on a plate and covered them with foil. I poured off most of the oil (leaving maybe a teaspoon in the pan) and then put the skillet back on the stove over medium-high heat. Into the pan I threw one minced garlic clove and about a tablespoon of minced shallot. I stirred that around for thirty seconds to soften the garlic and shallot and then I added two tablespoons of white wine. I scraped the bottom of the pan and boiled off the wine. I added a tablespoon of lemon juice and two tablespoons of capers.

I made a slurry of a half-cup of chicken broth with a tablespoon of corn starch whisked into it. I poured the slurry into the pan and combined everything with a whisk. I seasoned the sauce with more salt and pepper and added about a tablespoon of minced parsley and a teaspoon of minced chives. I brought the sauce up to boil to thicken it and reduce it and then I whisked in a tablespoon of room temperature.

I killed the heat and put the chicken breasts (and any collected juices) back into the pan, turning them to coat them with the piccata–style sauce. I put the chicken on a plate with the potatoes and the salad and then drizzled a bit of sauce over the top of the chicken.

Viola! Lunch is served!

 

Grilled Salmon Chop

Yummy salmon!!

I made this delightful grilled salmon “chop” a couple of days ago. It was really very simple.

First I took a salmon steak (you know, the U-shaped cut with a bone down the center that’s essentially a cross-section of the fish) and with a very sharp chef knife cut that right down the middle, severing it into two “chops”. I seasoned the salmon with Konriko Greek Seasoning and a bunch of cracked peppercorn and then I rubbed it with a generous amount of olive oil.

It was a cool evening so I used a stove-top grill-pan for my grilling. I pre-heated the oven to 350°F and heated the grill-pan over high until it was smoking-hot. I placed the salmon down in the pan and grilled the first side for about five minutes (or until nicely charred) and then flipped it. I grilled the other side for about three minutes and then popped the whole pan into the oven for six minutes.

I removed the pan from the oven and allowed it to sit on the stove-top for a few more minutes, just to cool down a tiny bit.

I served the fish with a scoop of steamed Japanese rice and a veggie saute of fresh corn, petite peas, and diced zucchini. Instead of a lemon wedge I added a slice of ripe tangerine.

It was a perfect dinner! The salmon was lush, buttery, custardy, and oh-so tasty. The skin was crisp and chewy and unctuous. The fish was rich and delish. You could almost feel the Omega-6 fatty acids coursing through your veins. So good!

 

Santa Barbara Prawn Scampi

Santa Barbara prawns are sweet and oh-so tender.

Despite their name Santa Barbara spot prawns (Pandalus platyceros) are not really prawns, per se. They are a type of shrimp. I generally understand the word prawn to mean a crustacean that’s larger than the average shrimp, with a slightly different shell structure and a more delicate flesh; I tend to think of spiny langostinos from the Mediterranean when I hear the word prawn. However, many people use the words prawn and shrimp interchangeably to mean any of these edible shrimp-like critters. I suppose peculiarities in name usage come from locality or availability. A jumbo shrimp cocktail, for instance, is referred to as a prawn cocktail in San Francisco, which is utterly indistinguishable from the chilled shrimp appetizer you’ll find from New York to San Diego. Why the regional variations in definition? I dunno, do your own deeper research if you like.

Regardless of what you call them, Santa Barbara spot prawns (or just prawns, no spot) are incredibly sweet and tender. They are usually the freshest shrimp you’ll find on the West Coast; most shrimp have their heads removed and are flash-frozen close to the harvesting site (or at the farm, for farmed shrimp) as an enzyme in the head will cause rapid decay after they die. But SB prawns are sold live, which means they are super-fresh. It also means that to cook them you have to kill them, so if that gives you pause you may wish to cook something less visibly twitchy.

For this recipe I sautéed a few of these über-fresh shrimp in a pan with some peeled and seeded tomatoes, some garlic, a handful of chopped herbs, and a touch of white wine. I ate it over some fragrant basmati rice and it was perfect. It’s a delicious preparation, but I also love them very simply grilled, head-on, split in half. Be sure to also check out this earlier post about SB Prawns from about eighteen months ago. Sorry if the pics aren’t my finest.

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Truly fresh seafood glistens.

When you grill prawns it’s best to leave the head on and cut right down the length of the entire body with a sharp knife, while they’re still alive. I mean, that’s damn fresh! But if the idea of the legs and feelers frantically waving all over the place while you’re cutting them in half freaks you out (and it’s pretty freaky, I’ll admit), you can put them in the freezer for fifteen minutes, which will kill them in a slightly gentler fashion. You’ll get less shrimp flailing when you break them down for cooking, whether you split them or clean them for sauté.

Since I wasn’t using the heads for this preparation I twisted them off and discarded them. I peeled off the tail shell mostly, leaving just the ends on. I deveined the prawns and kept them chilled until I was ready to cook ’em up.

This recipe calls for tomato concasse, which is diced peeled and seeded tomatoes. I used a lovely mixture of yellow and red heirlooms, which resulted in a fantastic orangey hue for the dish. To prepare tomatoes like this incise with a sharp knife an “X” on the bottom of each tomato (the top being the stem-end, btw) and dropping the tomatoes whole into boiling salted water for about ten seconds. Using a slotted spoon remove the tomatoes and place into a ice bath. The skin should curl back at the “X” and be easy to peel off. After you peel the tomato you can trim out the woody stem area, cut the tomatoes into segments, and gently scrape out the seeds. Chop into a medium dice for this recipe.

This scampi-style dish takes almost no time to cook; just be sure to have everything ready to go when you sauté the prawns. And take care not to overcook the shrimp! Err on the side of undercooked, if you’re at all unclear. Always remember that things continue to cook off the heat, in the pan, in the sauce, on the plate. So especially for more delicate items like mild fish or these prawns remember to stop right before you think it’s totally cooked through.

These little prawns have almost a “lobstery” flavor.

SB Prawn Scampi

This recipe is just for one person, so simply multiply the amounts for however many people you plan to feed.

You will need:

  • nine medium Santa Barbara spot prawns — headed, peeled, and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon room temperature butter
  • salt & pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup tomato concasse, medium-to-large dice
  • 1 teaspoon minced basil
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon room temperature butter (yep, more butter!)

Now do this:

Heat a saute pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add olive oil and 1 teaspoon of butter. Add prawns and season with some salt and pepper (use your own judgement). Cook prawns about 1 minute on the first side and flip them over. Add the garlic and the white wine. When the wine cooks down and no longer smells like booze add the diced tomatoes and herbs. Stir to coat the crustaceans and cook for about one minute, or until the shrimp are cooked through and the tomatoes are warm. Add another tablespoon of butter and toss the pan to combine everything. Remove from the pan and eat over rice or with toasty, crusty bread.

The season is just about over. You have maybe two more weeks to get your hands on SB prawns. So go for it!