Soy-Cured Salmon, Asian Pear, and Cilantro Crème Fraîche

Ooo La La

Ooo La La

Eating healthy is not just salads and egg white omelettes, although sometimes I think about what I eat and salad and egg whites resurface often. However, you can have restaurant or “chef-inspired” dishes on a regular basis with a little fine-tuning and adjustments. In this case, I did not have to change anything in the recipe for once.

I first came across this recipe when I was in Paris at Market (a Jean-Georges Restaurant) that my friend dragged me to. At the time I wanted to experience real French cuisine…duck confit, sole a la meunière, beef Bourgogne not some Asian-French fusion. (You can see why I joined Weight Watchers upon my immediate return from Europe.) I also did not realize it was a Jean-Georges restaurant until after the meal. In the end, it was the best meal I had in Paris even though I felt odd sitting there with chopsticks in hand while dining on the Champs-Élysées.

This recipe is perfect for impressing people (“you cured it yourself?!”) and can be served as an appetizer with crackers or blinis or as a first course. It can also be a light and sophisticated lunch for one while leaning over the kitchen sink.

Soy-Cured Salmon, Asian Pear, and Cilantro Crème Fraîche

From Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges by Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Yield = 4 servings

1 serving = 7 Points Plus

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20.5 hours (includes 20-hr marinating period)

Soy-cured salmon:

  • 1 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • One 2-inch piece fresh young ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 fresh green Thai chile, chopped (substituted jalapeño)
  • One 9-ounce salmon fillet, skinned, trimmed, and halved lengthwise

Dipping sauce:

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 2 scallions, white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup sliced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime zest, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon minced fresh green Thai chile (substituted jalapeño)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup diced Asian pear (used Bartlett pear)

Cilantro, Ginger, Jalapeno

To start roughly chop the cilantro, ginger, and chile. I used jalapeno because there were no Thai chiles at the store. You can use fresno chiles, serrano chiles, or whatever you like. Chuck it all in your food processor and add 1 cup of soy sauce, preferably light sodium, and give it a whirl. It doesn’t have to be finely puréed, it should be a little chunky.

Sockeye Salmon

Beautiful Sockeye Salmon

IMG_2556

Place your salmon fillets into the marinade and make sure they are completely submerged. I like to put an upside down plate on top just to make sure it has a little weight. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight for a total of 20 hours. Do not marinate it longer than that so it does not over-cure.

After 20 hours take the salmon out of the marinade and give it a rinse. Pat the salmon dry and set it aside. Don’t be off-put by the dark color, it’s just the soy sauce penetrating the flesh of the salmon. When you slice it, you’ll reveal the beautiful orange color of the sockeye.

Salmon After Curing for 20 Hours

Salmon After Curing for 20 Hours

Let’s have ourselves a little lesson on curing. Originally curing was used as a way to preserve food; it can take form as salting, drying, smoking, or pickling. Salt draws out the moisture which prevents the growth of microorganisms. In this case if you cure the salmon for too long, the soy sauce (i.e. salt) will draw too much of the moisture out of the fish and will cause it to be dry and salty. Therefore do not marinade the fish more than 20 hours.

Prep for Creme Fraiche

Next combine the crème fraîche, scallions, cilantro, chile, lime zest, lime juice, salt, and I throw in a little pinch of white pepper. Set aside.

Thinly Sliced Cured Salmon

Thinly slice the salmon in about 1/4″ slices. A sharp knife is a must in this situation, preferably a sharp slicer.

To serve, spoon some of the cilantro crème fraîche on the bottom of a plate. Shingle the sliced salmon on top of the sauce and then garnish with a brunoise of pear. (Brunoise is a fancy term meaning very tiny dice (exactly 1/8″ x 1/8″ x 1/8″).

Impressive, eh?

Impressive, eh?

The picture above showcases the beautiful and impressive presentation. I actually served it this way to my family for a nice, light appetizer before our Sunday dinner. However, when I made it for myself I bulked it up into a meal with the addition of cucumbers and extra pear. May not be as classy and a little on the messy side but just as tasty.

When no one was looking...this is what it really looks like

When no one was looking…this is what it really looks like

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Monkfish with Creamy Morels and Frisée

Sometimes when I go shopping I’ll buy an accessory…shoes, a purse, a piece of jewelry and I’ll end designing an entire outfit around that one item. This is essentially what I did when I made this dish. I found morel mushrooms at the farmer’s market and bought them on a whim, even though they were $30 a pound. They’re only around for a short period of time so said figured, what the hell…why not? All the other elements of this design were picked to heighten and complement the flavors of the morels.

Morel Mushrooms

Usually morels are served with rice, pasta, or potatoes so the morels have a blank backdrop to show their true flavor. Morels also pair perfectly with heavy cream. I substituted heavy cream for fat-free half-and-half and instead of serving this sauce with a big bowl of pasta I decided to serve it with frisée which is a very sturdy green that can stand-up to warm dressings and pungent ingredients.

 

Monkfish with Creamy Morels and Frisée

Makes 1 Serving = 7 Points Plus

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

  • 4 oz monkfish
  • ¼ cup onions, minced
  • 4 oz fresh morel mushrooms*
  • 2 tsp thyme, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp fat-free half-and-half
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 scallion, sliced, green only
  • 2 cups frisée**
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • salt and pepper, to taste

*If you can’t find morels, you can subtitute any mushrooms you like…cremini, shiitake, chanterelles (would be awesome), oyster, etc.

**If you can’t find frisée use, any sturdy green you like or you can serve this sauce with any mild starch.

Season the monkfish with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add your onions and thyme and sauté for 2-3 minutes until lightly softened. Add the morels and sauté for 7-8 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft and cooked through. Turn the heat down to low, and add the white wine. Simmer for 1-2 minutes or until alcohol flavor has cooked off. Then add your chicken broth and let that reduce by half.

While the sauce is cooking, heat a small sauté pan over medium-high heat and add your vegetable oil. Add the monkfish and cook on all sides until cooked through, about 6-7 minutes total. Set aside and keep warm while you finish your sauce.

Add the half-and-half to your sauce and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and add the butter and swirl the pan to incorporate the butter into the sauce. Add your scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble, lay your frisée on the bottoms of a large plate. Slice your monkfish and lay the slices over the frisée. Top with your creamy morels sauce and give everything a good squeeze of lemon. Dig in and use the frisée to mop up every drop of creamy goodness!

Linguine with Clams and Shrimp

Even though I am trying to live a healthy lifestyle, I still love a big bowl of pasta. Nothing is more satisfying and comforting than twirling long strands and biting down into perfectly cooked al dente noodles.  When making healthy pasta dishes I like to “rev” up the flavor with bright ingredients and different textures. I also recommend using fortified and whole-wheat pastas that have more fiber, protein, and more whole grains than “regular” pastas. This way you can have a smaller portion but still feel full. Feel free to add any extra vegetables to this dish and make it your own!

Linguine with Clams and Shrimp

Makes 2 Servings

1 Serving = 7 Points

  • 3 oz whole-wheat linguine (Healthy Harvest)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small spring onion, bulb and greens separated and sliced (can substitute scallions if spring onions are not available)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 6 oz cockles or other small clams,  scrubbed and cleaned
  • ½ cup champagne or other white wine
  • 4 large shrimp (head on if possible), deveined
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water aggressively with salt so it tastes like the ocean. Add your linguine or pasta of your choice.

Spring Onion

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add 1 tsp of olive oil. Add the white bulb of your spring onion and cook until softened. Add your garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté for 1 minute. Then add your cockles and champagne and turn the heat to high and cover with a lid.

Cook the cockles for 3-4 minutes or until they open. In a separate small sauté pan add 1 tsp of olive oil over medium heat. Season your shrimp with salt and pepper and sauté in the small skillet for 3-4 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside and keep warm.

Drain the pasta when it’s “al dente” or slightly before “al dente” and keep 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Once the cockles open, add your cooked pasta and cook together for 2-3 minutes. Add some pasta water if the sauce seems dry. Finish the pasta with lemon juice and green tops of the spring onions. Portion the pasta between two plates and top with your sautéed shrimp. Twirl with pleasure.