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

Miso Salmon with Soba Noodle Salad

Just to let you all know I do take recipe requests for my blog. So this one is for my Aunt Shelly, who pointed out that I didn’t have a recipe for salmon on my blog. This is something I have been making for many years and never fails to impress. It’s easy and quick enough to make during the week, and also can be dressed up for company on the weekends. The soba noodle salad is awesome because it can be served hot or cold, as a main dish or side dish and the ingredients can be adapted depending on the season and what you have on hand. Also, using soba noodles is a great way to introduce whole grains into your or your family’s diet without freaking anyone out.

 

Miso Salmon with Soba Noodle Salad

 

Makes 4 Servings

1 serving = 4 oz salmon and 1 cup noodles = 11 Points Plus

 

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

 

For the Salmon:

  • 1# salmon (preferably wild-caught), skin off
  • 3 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • cilantro sprigs (for garnish)

 

For the Noodles:

  • 8.8 oz soba noodles (1 package)
  • 4 oz ramps (1 bunch), bottoms should be sliced and tops can be left whole**
  • ¾ # asparagus
  • ¼ cup soy sauce, divided
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup bean sprouts

 

**If ramps are not in seasons, feel free to use a combination of scallions (1 bunch) and 2 cloves of sliced garlic.

 

Asparagus @ Union Square Greenmarket

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Combine miso paste, ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, and orange juice and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the soba noodles and cook according to the package’s directions (usually about 8 minutes) until the noodles are cooked through. Drain and set aside.

Soba Noodles

Meanwhile, combine 2 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tsp sesame oil in a large bowl. Add the asparagus and thoroughly coat the asparagus in the dressing. Place asparagus on a foiled-lined sheet tray and place into the oven. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Cut into 1 inch pieces and set aside.

In a medium sauté pan, add ramp bottoms and sauté for 1-2 minutes or until soft. Add the ramp tops and cook until slightly wilted.

In a large bowl combine remaining soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and brown sugar. Whisk to combine until sugar has dissolved.

 

When the soba noodles are cooked through, drain well, and add to large bowl with the dressing while the noodles are still hot. Add the asparagus, ramps, and bean sprouts and toss everything together to combine thoroughly. Do a quick taste test to make sure everything is properly seasoned. You can either keep this salad at room temperature or refrigerate to serve it chilled.

For the salmon, brush the miso glaze onto both sides on the salmon and place on a foil-lined sheet pan. Place into a preheated 375°F oven, and bake until the fish is about medium in temperature, about 10-12 minutes depending on the size of your filet. Let me the salmon rest before you cut into it. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

 

My favorite was to enjoy this dish is with the warm salmon sitting on top of the cold noodles because I love the contrast in temperature. Keep the requests coming!

Salmon Tartare

Here in Chicago it’s been a hot, humid, sticky summer. The thought of standing in front of a charcoal grill cooking up some burgers is the last thing on my mind. So instead of sweating literally into my food, my solution was to stay in the cool comfort of my air-conditioned kitchen.

So…grilled salmon turned into salmon tartare and all for the better.

20 wonton wrappers (square)

five spice powder, to taste

1 pound salmon (I used Coho, but you could use Sockeye, King, etc), small dice

1 medium mango, small dice

1 avocado, small dice

1/3 cup English cucumber, small dice

1 serrano chile, minced

1 tbsp chives, finely chopped

2 tbsp chopped cilantro

2 tbsp ponzu

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp wasabi paste

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

salt, to taste

Preheat your oven to 350°F. (Yes it’s hot out, but the oven will only be on for 5 minutes!) Take your wonton wrappers and cut them in half on the diagonal to create two triangles. Spray your foil-lined sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray and then place your wonton wrappers on the sheet pan. Spray the tops of the wonton wrappers once they are on the sheet pan. Sprinkle with five spice powder and salt to taste. Bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.

This will be the most complicated step you have to do. So don’t sweat too much.

Combine the chives, cilantro, ponzu, sesame oil, fish sauce, wasabi paste and lime juice together in a bowl. Whisk to combine.

Combine salmon, mango, avocado (sprinkle with a little lime juice to prevent oxidation), English cumber, and serrano.

About 30 minutes before you plan on serving this dish, combine the dressing and the salmon mixture. Let marinate in the refrigerator and adjust seasoning appropriately.

Serve salmon tartare alongside wonton chips and enjoy this cool dish.

Awww…see…didn’t even break a sweat!

This is a great way to enjoy fish in its most simple form. Be sure to talk to your fish monger to make sure the quality of your fish is high enough to consume it raw. Usually tartare will include some form of fat, either in the form of oil, mayonnaise, or egg yolks. This version has none of the above and instead is dressed in a light, tangy, and acidic vinaigrette. It keeps the tartare high in flavor and light on the calories. Also using a very ripe avocado will add creaminess, a buttery texture and richness to the dish.

It’s a great versatile dish that I enjoy for lunch, serve as a wonderful cocktail hors d’oeuvre, light dinner, and sometimes for a midnight snack.