Nobu West Comes North: Paper-Thin Salad with Wild Alaska Sockeye Tataki

Crisp, paper thin vegetables and a tangy, spicy jalapeño dressing accent flash fried Sockeye salmon in this fusion salad from chefs Nobu Matsuhisa and Mark Edwards. 

For the first time this summer, yesterday was downright cool. We rode our Hondas 25 miles over a combination of paved road and then ever narrowing dirt and gravel to see the falls on the Tazimina River, northeast of Newhalen. Our jackets were zipped against the fall-like chill in the air. With most of the fireweed going to seed, the Sockeye run long over and Barbra due to begin her school year later this week, I wanted to prepare a dish that might capture a sense of summer’s fleeting final days in a land where autumn comes early. A bottle of Sauvignon Blanc was already chilling in the refrigerator.

I found what I was looking for in the cookbook Nobu West, a joint effort between Nobu Matsuhisa and Mark Edwards. The key to this salad is to use a mandolin to slice the vegetables as thin as possible and then to soak them in ice water to make them as crisp.

Salmon Tataki with Paper-Thin Salad (from Nobu West, by Nobu Matsuhisa & Mark Edwards)

Ingredients

Vegetables

  • small red beet
  • carrot
  • zucchini
  • summer squash
  • red radish
  • cucumber
  • other vegetables as desired

Jalapeño Dressing

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed, diced fine
  • 6½ tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp garlic chopped fine
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup grape seed oil (or extra virgin olive oil, etc.)

Salmon Tataki

  • sashimi grade salmon fillet(s), skin removed, seasoned with coarsely ground black pepper
  • bowl of ice water
  • stainless steel or cast iron pan and cooking oil with a high smoking point (such as avocado oil)

Directions

1.  Vegetables: Prepare two bowls of ice water. Use a mandolin to slice vegetables lengthwise as thin as possible. Immerse slices in ice water for an hour to make the vegetables crisp. Do the beets separately, using a separate bowl, to keep them from coloring the other vegetables. (You might want to wear nitrile gloves to keep the beets from staining your fingers.)

2. Jalapeño Dressing: You will need a stick blender or food processor for this.
– Place diced jalapeño, vinegar, garlic and sea salt in food processor (or in a narrow container suitable to a stick blender). Purée ingredients.
– Continuing to process ingredients, slowly drizzle in olive oil. (If the ingredients separate, whisk together just before serving.)

3.  Salmon Tataki:
– Place cooking oil in a frying pan and heat on medium-high.
– When oil is ready to sizzle, sear salmon fillet, frying for about 5 seconds on each side. Outside of salmon should be white where cooked.
– Plunge seared salmon into ice water to stop cooking and to firm up flesh. Pat dry with paper towels and refrigerate till ready for use.
– Just before serving , cut salmon fillet into thin strips, about ¼ inch thick. Do this at the last moment so that the salmon remains flavorful.

4. Serving the salad:
– Pour jalapeño dressing on serving plates so that it covers the plates.
– Arrange salmon strips on plates.
– Place vegetables on salmon to form a mound.

Serve immediately while vegetables and salmon are still chilled.

 

 

Linzertorte with Raspberry Freezer Jam – A Bright Idea!

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Lovely rich texture of ground almonds brightened by fresh, tart raspberry jam. Yes, sir, I’ll have another!

Linzertorte is not a new creation. I read that the first published recipes for this lovely dessert appeared in the early 1700’s. Sidestepping a culinary history lesson, I can happily report that you we love this torte. What makes ours a bit different is freezer jam – which is a magical concoction made from a mix of fresh berries, pectin and sugar without using heat. The result is a fresh, bright flavor, featuring the sweet, tart Pow of right-off-the-bushes raspberry taste. Click here to read more about freezer jam.

Freezer Jam Linzertorte

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberry freezer jam

Directions

  1. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, process almonds with confectioner’s sugar. Almonds should be finely ground.
  3. Pour butter into almond mixture and mix well.
  4. Add in egg yolks. Mix well.
  5. Add flour mixture to almond mixture and mix well.
  6. Separate about 1/3 of the dough. Flatten it into a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
  7. Take remaining dough and press it into a greased, fluted tart pan. I used a springform pan and that worked well, too.
  8. Spread dough with jam. Place this part of torte into refrigerator.
  9. Take chilled dough and roll out into a circle about 1/4 inch thick.
  10. Using a fluted roller, cut the rolled dough into 6 strips.
  11. Criss-cross strips on top of torte.
  12. Press edges together to seal.
  13. Place torte in refrigerator while preheating oven.
  14. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  15. Bake torte until crust is browned and jam is bubbling, about 45 minutes.
  16. Let cool on wire rack until torte is just warm. Remove torte from pan and move it to a serving plate.
  17. Dust top of Linzertorte with confectioners’ sugar to serve.

Rustic Moose Pot Pie

Lean wild game, roasted to perfection, sliced into bite-sized cubes and baked in a pie topped with a hearty whole wheat crust is the kind of meal that can fend off consecutive days of negative 20 degree cold.

When a friend recently presented us with a two-pound moose roast, we were thrilled. But we were also a bit perplexed. Looking over the meat, I couldn’t find even a trace of fat. Add that to the fact that neither one of us cooks roasts, and I was at something of a loss as to what to do. “Stew,” was the suggestion I most frequently came across. “Stew or stir fry,” was a friend’s suggestion.

We love good stew. In fact, we have enough caribou stew in the freezer to see us through the end of the school year. So that was out. Stir fry, too, is a regular dinner item. I wanted to do something traditional but new for us.

In the end, I did roast the moose. Inspired by a recipe for lamb from the cookbook Nobu West by Nobu Matsuhisa, I marinated the roast in miso seasoned with garlic and ginger before putting it in the oven. Despite my best efforts it came out a bit drier than I had hoped, although the miso marinade helped to caramelize the roast when I pan-seared it prior to roasting. I served the finished roast sliced thin with a tosa-zu dipping sauce along with carrots and parsnips cut into long, thin strips and sautéed in a combination of olive oil, butter, garlic and soy sauce.

Dinner that night started with scallop, shrimp and smoked quail egg chawan mushi, segued to roasted beats with pan-crisped pine nuts, was followed by cedar planked shrimp on mushrooms and culminated with the moose roast. For dessert, Barbra brought out individual baked apples capped with pastry. Inside each apple was apple pie filling. The dessert was delicious – and fun, and the whole-wheat pie crust topping the apple gave us the idea of making a large pot pie stuffed with leftover moose, vegetables and gravy.

Regarding the recipe below, a note about bouillon: We’ve become fans of Better Than Bouillon products. In our opinion, the flavor is superior to other soup bases we’ve tried.

Rustic Moose Pot Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons “Better Than Bouillon Beef Base” (or other bouillon, or use beef broth)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 2/3 cups potatoes, cut into 1/2″ cubes, skin on
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 pound roasted moose meat, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn
  • 1/3 cup celery, diced coarse
  • 1/2 cup carrots, sliced into discs or chopped coarse
  • 1/3 cup broccoli florets, cut coarse
  • (Optional) 1/3 cup mushrooms, chopped coarse
  • 1/2 rounded teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • several generous grinds freshly cracked black pepper
  • salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F. **Baking time and temperature may vary depending on type of crust used.**
  2. Place the water in a pot and heat over medium-high heat. Stir in enough beef bouillon for a strongly flavored base. Add bay leaf and rosemary. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Add potatoes. You will simmer potatoes till just tender, but do not overcook. When potatoes still have about 5 minutes of cooking to go, add the carrots. When there is about 1 minute, add all the remaining vegetables. Continue simmering until potatoes are just tender and remove from heat. (They will continue cooking in the pie.)
  4. Use a strainer to separate potatoes and vegetables from the beef stock. Remove bay leaf and place potatoes and vegetables in a large bowl. Return beef stock to original pot.
  5. Place approximately 4 tablespoons olive oil in small frying pan and heat over low to medium-low heat. When oil is heated, slowly stir in flour. Continue stirring until mixture thickens. Remove from heat.
  6. Heating beef broth over medium heat, stir in oil and flour mixture. Combine thoroughly. This will result in a thick gravy.
  7. To the bowl that already has the potatoes and vegetables, add the meat, gravy and the remaining seasonings and mix together.
  8. Pour meat and vegetable mixture directly into a deep pie dish. Cover with a crust. Be sure to make holes in the crust to allow steam to escape. Brushing on a beaten egg will help create a golden brown crust.
  9. Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 °F for 25 – 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Serve piping hot with big glasses of Old Vine Zinfandel.