salmon

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oysters and trout

Can you knock off work, get to the shops, attend to jobs like bathing child, and bang out a very respectable 10th anniversary dinner? Yes you can.

Get oysters from reputable fishmonger (shucked – unless spending that special night with a DIY stigmata is your thing).
Get a lime. Lop the ends off. Segment. And then trim off the central pith.
Buy goat’s cheese and leave to soften on the bench.
Buy reputable smoked ocean trout. (tetsuya has just got some out)
Lay evenly on a piece of glad wrap.
Spread goats cheese over it.
Place it on a bamboo sushi mat and roll. The trick is peeling the glad wrap out of the way, for obvious reasons. Place it in the fridge to chill. And then slice into rounds.

Easy – impress your friends. In fact, if you had a nice bottle of sparkling chilling in the fridge and maybe cooked a few asparagus in butter to have on the side; you’d have a pretty special meal all in itself.

carpetbagger steak

We had a bottle of 1998 shiraz (the fourth of six) so the match was a rib of aged Dandaragan Organic Beef. I stuffed this with few oysters by making a pocket with a boning knife and then sealing it with toothpick. Seared, then put in the oven to cook. Quick wine and cream jus made in pan. Zucchini flowers cooked in a little butter. Green things (radish sprouts? can’t remember) tossed with a little very good EVOO and salt and pepper. And that’s it.

Memo to me for dessert: use foil when blind baking tart shell to avoid having to dig out dried broadbeans.

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smoked salmon cut

This is easy. Part of the lunch for the-mag-is-away weekend, the Michel Roux jnr lamb cooked in a salt dough was a little trickier, maybe I’ll explain that later.

1 cup of aborio rice, 1/4 cup raw sugar, and 1 tbs of darjeeling tea. It was supposed to be jasmine rice, brown cane sugar, and jasmine tea but well I fould out I didn’t have any of these and just made do. Place it on a sheet of foil (didn’t have that either) and then place it in a wok. Place the fish in a bamboo steamer and then place that in the wok and turn up the heat. It should begin to smoke and allow it to continue to do so for about 15 minutes or until cooked. Outdoors is probably a good idea. Sliced and eaten and enjoyed a great deal. The lamb was good too with the tarragon crumbs giving it a richness that felt at times like gargling hollandaise.

Trickier still and unlike gargling hollandaise is getting out a mag. Just got back from going over the proofs, the final stage before it goes to press and yes I’m happy. The whole thing looks great. Although (inevitably) I’m not that happy with some of my stories but happy with some bits, especially the ones that made me laugh. These are at my own jokes though so the experience may be somewhat different for the rest of you. A late night but a rewarding one seeing it finally all together. Most of my work (I’m editor now – yeah yeah well I just write it here, I don’t check it) involved sitting and looking at the very unmagical MS Word and printouts, there’s then a fantastic transition when I get to see it come together on InDesign by our designer Kate with the pics from photographic editor Jeff. But nothing like big bits of paper with lines all over the margin bits (as they say in the industry). It’s quite a few more involved than just us three – Kate found herself invaluably (for us) shanghai’d and of course my wife has gone from blog widow to mag widow (but both of these have a better ring to them than bike widow) and has given me more support than I deserved. Done. Out in a week or so, when I think I’ll be licking stamps or something.

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Poached salmon with kang kong scrambled eggs


OK here we go. Deboned and skinned salmon cutlets poached in white wine, pepper, bayleaf, and parsley with scrambled eggs with cream and mushrooms with kang kong sauteed in olive oil with thin pieces of pancetta. Topped with a reduction of the poaching liquid with cream and chopped capers. Gotta do something about that glare. Any questions?

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Saffy asked how I poached the salmon. The roundlet of salmon is how they prepare it at Jacksons for the confit. You cut the cutlet down the middle, take the bones out, skin it, and then make a ying-yang shape and tie it up. This was the point where I found out I didn’t have any string so I secured it with a couple of skewers. Couple of big glasses of wine in a saucepan with peppercorns, bay leaf and parsley and bring it to boil. Place it on a heat mat/diffuser to get it down to a very low simmer (almost no bubbles) and then add the salmon. Top up to cover the salmon with water and poach until cooked. If you don’t have a diffuser, a very low heat will do.
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Seems to be trouble with the commenting, if so just email me – spiceblog at gmail.

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salmon salad


Salad salad salad. There are a lot of platitudes about healthy food but it does make sense. Every time we eat we have an opportunity to eat what will do us good or eat something shite. Better if it’s tasty shite, worse if it’s shite shite. If it’s good for you and tasty, then doubly plus good. Mucho macho delusion is at work. The movie running through the head is that unhealthy eating is vindicated by being oh so tasty and a willingness to stare death in the face to do it. In reality it’s a failure to develop reasonable adult tastes and an unwillingness to work beyond the hot, the salty, and the fatty as the pinnacles of food pleasure. The result is usually to work most of the way through it to justify getting it in the first place and then spend the rest of it wondering what you were thinking, case in point – the Whopper. Then it’s the useless loop of validation and the fruitless search for the taste that you thought you’d get. Not forgetting the whole forbidden fruit thing but it’d be nice if the forbidden fruit wasn’t forbidden froot, if you know what I mean. Perception: wildly pushing risk parameters on a thundering hunk of hot metal. Reality: riding Virago into back of vehicle while looking back at outrun Excel.

Why don’t I make more salads? I dunno. Salads are subordinate clauses to the controlling idea of meat and have the Tontoes about them. We rarely, if ever, make a course of them. The trick is to make them more like bongos and less like drum kits. Actually I hate bongos after many a perfectly good boho party in the early nineties was ruined by squads of percussionistas. Somebody had put a mirror on the lawn so you could like look at the stars and this vibe was demolished by a lumpen faux salsa chorus. Anyway this is a healthy salad and more meal in a bowl like the Vietnamese Beef salads and an amped up version of the token bits if browned bacony things in a Caesar, the Japanese do a nice line in a seafood salad. With the recipe I was looking for gone missing, I kind of made it up with repeated finger dipping tastings (not hygenic I know but better food poisoning than relying on some kind of palatal telepathy). As a meal you’ve got your meat, your veg, and your bread.

Wash and dry some lettuce – the further away from the nutritionally empty iceberg the better. Grape tomatoes and trimmed and steamed asparagus refreshed to a chill immediately after steaming in ice water.

Pan fry salmon cutlet in a little vegetable oil. I marinated the salmon in a little saké for 15 minutes. Flake it while it’s still hot (builds finger character) and make sure no bones get into the salad.

I was distracted and let the asparagus oversteam and become soft so I thought croutons would add a bit of crunch. Thick slice of sourdough bread, toasted in a toaster, and cut into cubes. The innovation was to quickly fry them in the pan I’d just cooked the salmon in to give it a nice coating of fishy flavour goodness

Dressing: 4tbs soy sauce; 2tbs lemon juice; 2tbs white vinegar; 2tsp sugar; 3 spring onion whites, finely sliced; 2tbs ginger, finely grated; 2tbs of white and black sesame seeds, lightly dry pan toasted. Pop in a jar and shake and pour over salad. The measurements are recollected guesstimates, accurately replicate it at your peril. If you want a bit of a guide, the soy sauce is salty, the lemon juice adds fresh tangy sourness, the vinegar a bit of spare sour fruitiness, the ginger and spring onions a bit of pungency, the sesame seeds add crunch and toastiness, and the sugar add sweetness to offset the saltiness of the soy. Adjust accordingly.

A fine addition to the mid-week warm weather repertoire that’s as healthy as it is tasty and as crusty as it is trusty with the cruton hitting the futon and the pisces balancing any nutritional crises.

Note: in a break from food photograph narratives, neither the book, garlic, watch, or mango were in the salad. Apologies for any confusion that may have resulted.

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poachedtrout

From two trout comes this Monday night fanciness. I relied heavily on James Peterson’s Essentials of Cooking. An excellent buy if you’re interested in learning the basics to mess around in the kitchen.

Poached Trout

The trout were cleaned and some chopped parsley and fennel put in the cavity. Tied up with a softened shallot (you can wrap them in cheesecloth). The poaching liquid was half semillon, half water with a bouquet garni of thyme, parsley, a bay leaf, and a shallot. Brought to a very gentle simmer and then the trout added and poached for 7 minutes. Removed the head and tail and peeled off the skin. It would have also been a good time to remove the bones.

Beurre Blanc

2 chopped spring onions with white wine and white vinegar and reduced to a near glaze. Add some cream – simmer and then whisk in cubes of cold butter. Don’t let it boil and whisk constantly until it’s smooth and creamy. Season. I added some fennel but saffron is a possibility.

The snake beans were steamed and the artichokes were boiled and went through the whole elaborate artichoke preparation routine which I can’t be bothered to explain. Am I missing something but are artichokes overrated?

A success. Poaching is easy and the beurre blanc can be done and adapted for future variations.

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Jellied Cream.

Like it? Had it?

Thickened cream.

Never knew it.

Cream + Gelatine.

What a fraud.

Process for coming up with this:

Ubaldi Saccotini al Salmone -> Lemon-> Cream -> Fresh Parsley Fennel->Small Bottle of Pinot Chardy Sparklin’.

Saccotini al Salmone look like little wontons. Grated the lemon peel of two lemons finely, cooked in little butter for a minute or two. In went the sparkling, simmered for a few minutes. Cup of whipping cream. Simmer and stir for another two with a tbs of fennel leaves. Pour over the Saccotini and add some parmesan.

Fresh and tart creamy with the fennel adding an unexpected flavour disorient. Liked it a lot. A lot. Saccotini could have gone harder with the salmon, but why not just have fresh pasta with smoked salmon. Capers?

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Frittata are the inflexible predecessors of omlettes and the easiest of all egg things to make – including boiled. I had 5 eggs so instead of two skinny omlettes, I made this from a look in the fridge. What I had were some smoked salmon pieces*. I also looked at a tub of sundried tomatoes but decided it’d overdo things and applied the less is more rule.

Being

5 Margaret River Free Range Eggs, handful of chopped smoked salmon, 2 grated potatoes, chopped parsley, 4 chopped spring onions, pepper, olive oil

Doing

Separated the egg whites, gave them a good whisking to aerate. Reunited the yolks, mixed and added the parsley and seasoned with a little pepper. In an ovenable cast iron frypan, I gently fried the spring onions until soft. Then, a mild heating and stir of the potatoes and salmon. In went the eggs, making sure they covered it all. Cooked gently until browned underneath then finished in the oven under the griller.

Nothingness

It was very very nice. And I use nice advisedly, it made me feel homely, earthy – I saw bits of moss between logs. Good. Easy. If I were back in my three recipes are all you need days, this would have been one of them.

*Attention shoppers: Innaloo fish markets do a good price on smoked salmon “bits”.

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