miso-glazed salmon

This was inspired by my friends at the secret menu, as well as my desire to learn how to cook fish.  I have nothing else to say about it.

1/2 lb salmon fillet, 3/4″ thick or so, skin on

1/4 cup chopped scallions

Glaze:

1 tb sesame seeds

1/3 cup miso

2 tb mirin

1 tb soy

2tsp minced ginger.  careful.

1 tb siracha

1 tsp seasame oil

2 tb rice vinegar

salt

1. Mix all the glaze ingredients and pour into a large ziplock bag.

2.  Place fish in bag and close bag.  Mix the bag around a bit to cover the fish with the glaze

3. let sit at room temperature for two hours

4. place a cast iron skillet a few inches below a broiler and turn to hi.  heat skillet for a few minutes

5. place the fish in the skillet skin down.  brush some of the extra glaze onto the fish, but not too much.

6. broil for 7-9 minutes.  The fish is supposed to reach an internal temperature of 130℉ – 140℉, which you can read with a instant read thermometer, or until it flakes away easily.  The top will be blacked a bit, which is fine.

7. toss some of the scallions on top.  Eat, yes, with a roasted potato salad.  Or not.

I think I may have overcooked the fish, but I couldn’t really tell because the thick part seemed overcooked while the thin part seemed fine, which doesn’t make sense, right?  My thermometer was slow to read the temperature and was also all over the place.  The fish flaked fine, I suppose.

Regardless, it was very tasty.  This is another one of those recipes where you have various contrasting tastes working at the same time (i.e. sour, sweet, salty etc. (where does spicy fit in?  I think spicy should count as a taste)).  It’s also very simple, like this particular post.

Andy, the Silverlake reservoir Duck of the Week, likes it as well.

Careful Andy, there are youthful coyotes in the area!

roasted potato salad with lemongrass vinaigrette

It was plenty that introduced me to the idea of using a vinaigrette as a sauce for roasted vegetables, and why not: vinaigrette is one of the french mother sauces after all.  So if you can call roasted vegetables a salad, and you can, then this is a fantastic roasted potato salad.

roasted potato salad

4-5 medium sized potatoes, washed and cut into 3/4″ pieces, skin on

2 large carrots, washed and cut in to 3/4″ pieces, skin on

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

salt and black pepper

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped basil

1/2 cup chopped chinese celery or parsley

1/4 cup chopped scallions

lemongrass vinaigrette

1 stalk lemongrass

six slices of ginger

1/2 tbsp sugar

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp fresh garlic, chopped

1/2 tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)

salt

make it happen

1. preheat oven to 400℉

2. add vegetable oil to chopped potato and carrot in a mixing bowl.  Add a good amount of salt and black pepper, maybe 2tsp of each or more (you can always adjust this later (why am I telling you this like you’re an idiot.  you know this already. sorry))

3. place in oven and roast for 40 minutes or so.  Turn every 15 minutes to prevent sticking.  You may also want to grease your baking tray with oil.

meanwhile, prepare the lemongrass vinaigrette.  I have no idea why I thought of making a lemongrass vinaigrette, except that I liked the aroma and taste of lemongrass in soups and other dishes.  So I looked up some stuff on the internet, and produced the following, which is an amalgam of various things that I found.

4. trim most of the green part off the lemongrass, then peel, smash with the back of your knife, and chop finely.  Add to a sauce pan. Cut six slices of ginger (skin on is fine) and add to the sauce pan with the sugar and 1/2 cup of water.

5. bring to boil and then cook down until you have 1/4 cup or less.  Strain into a jar.

A jar?  Yes, I’ve been converted into using jar technology to make a vinaigrette.  You can mix the ingredients together more vigorously and it’s less messy, and it’s easier to precisely measure everything you are adding.  And also fun.

6. To this jar, add the lemon juice, olive  oil, soy sauce, sriacha, garlic, and salt (to taste).

First of all, I have to mention that I was using a very fresh, gorgeous garlic that I had just bought at the hollywood farmer’s market.  The skin was soft and not dry like with regular garlic; it was interesting.  It smells and looks fantastic.  We could even smell it in the car on the ride home as it overpowered the rest of our produce.

I’m going to do something with those garlic tops too, just you wait and see (any suggestions?).

Anyway, this is what your vinaigrette looks like pre-mixing.

7. SHAKE IT!!

then it looks like this:

You may have to shake it up again before you add it to the salad.

Speaking of, back to our potatoes

8. Take the vegetables out of the oven and put them back in the mixing bowl

9. Add basil and chinese celery and mix

I grew to love celery cress last summer.  It’s really a wonderful garnish/herb to use.  All the flavor and brightness of celery without the water and fiber.  What’s known as “chinese celery” is particularly good in this regard, because it’s mostly cress with nothing resembling what you might usually consider to be a celery stalk. It looks like this.

I used both the stem and the leaves.  The flavor is strong but mixes well with the other flavors in this salad, so feel free to use more of it (and of the basil).

10.  Add a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette and the scallions, and season with salt to taste.  The vinaigrette will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.  At least two, since it’s been two days since I’ve made it and it’s still good.  In fact I just used it today on an arugula  salad.  But I digress.

11.  Serve with brown rice cooked with some fresh garlic, as I did.  Or not, as you like.

Tangy, spicy, sweet, sour, salty, umami, this salad has it all.  The roasted vegetables are robust enough to absorb and complement the intense flavor the vinaigrette and the sweet freshness of the herbs.  The scallions, oddly, push it over the top, adding a fresh, pungent, crunchy element to the salad.  The vinaigrette, meanwhile,  is strongly lemon flavored (because I used lemon juice instead of a vinegar) but also carries the umami from the soy and the aroma and flavors of the lemongrass and ginger in the background (flavors which become more prominent when you eat the leftovers the next day).  The cayenne and sriracha add the necessary, sparkly heat.  Usually food I make is somewhat generically good, but nothing to write home about, much less blog about.  But I wouldn’t go on about this if I didn’t surprise myself this time.

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Duck of the Week: Eloise and Nathan

The Huntington ducks, Eloise and Nathan, would like to invite you in for a spot of tea next weekend.  (Please RSVP)

tomato saar

Last summer I visited one of my many long lost cousins, S,  in Bournemouth, which is on the coast in the south of England.  South England in general has been called (or accused of being) the quintessential vision of aristocratic, agricultural England, and, in the 20s, even saw middle class preservationists organize mass-walking/’rambling’ trips in order to both preserve the landscape and to demand more open access to the land.  Because of such preservation efforts, much of the land still resembles the quilted agricultural serenity of overactive English imagination.  And now it’s populated by elderly white people (still) and Indian-born bankers, like my cousin.  Anyway, it’s pretty.

Aside from such pastoral pleasures, however, was an excellent lunch generously prepared by my cousin’s wife, P.  And the highlight here was a dish that I had never tried or known of before.  It was an incredibly spicy, clear, strong tomato soup.  It was definitely too spicy for my sister, which isn’t saying much, but also for my parents, who just don’t really prefer a lot of spice.  For me it was perfect, especially because the level of spiciness is really what makes the dish.  So I badgered my mother to get the recipe for months, and finally made it the other day.  It’s actually a Maharashtrian dish.  It’s very simple, easy to prepare, and very tasty.

Tomato Saar

4 medium to big tomatoes, quartered

1 14oz can coconut milk

3-5 green ‘thai’ chillies, minced

2 tsps cumin seed

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp sugar

salt

4-5 dry Curry leaves

1/2 cup  roughly chopped Cilantro

2 tblsp oil

1. Braise tomates in 1 cup of water on medium-low heat, until tender and fully cooked (15-ish minutes)

2. Place the tomatoes in a food processor while reserving the liquid in the pan.  Puree and strain into a bowl using a mesh colander.  I actually strained it once, and then blended the leftover pulp further, and strained again.  Pass the water through the colander into the bowl as well.  Cool completely.  That’s very important, which is why it’s in bold.

3. Combine pureed tomato and coconut  in a sauce pan over medium high heat and let it come to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and keep stiring so the two do not separate.

4. This part is called the ‘phodni’ or ‘tadka’ and is sort of the key to many Indian dishes, particularly in the South.  Heat the oil.  When hot, turn the heat down to medium or medium low and  add chillies.  A note about chilies.  I used ‘thai’ chilies from grocery warehouse.  They look like this:

I kept the seeds in to make the dish more spicy.  My mother recommended three jalapeño peppers, but these are spicier.  I would have guessed they are 2-3 times spicier, but according to the scoville scale, they are 5-10 times spicer, with the jalapeño being 3000-8000 units and the thai chili being 50,000-100,000.  I would not have guessed that.  In any case the final result was, yes, spicy, but next time I’ll probably use five of these thai chilies.  They’re so cheap anyway, especially at grocery warehouse.

5. After frying chillies for 3-4 minutes, add cumin seed and curry leaves and fry for 3 mor minutes.

6. Gently add the tomato/coconut mixture, turmeric,sugar, salt and the cilantro. Bring to boil and reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer for 3 minutes.

7.  Strain the soup through the mesh colander again.  Serve with your choice of flatbread.

Seriously, this soup is really good.  Again, the key is to make it spicy.  If you are nervous, just have a small bowl of yogurt on the side to temper the spice as you are eating it, but don’t skimp on the peppers.  I almost want to say that when I originally had it there was no coconut milk involved, because it was so clear.  But in any case the coconut milk adds flavor and richness to the dish.  It is not photogenic, like most soups I think, but is very tasty and easy to make.

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