15 June 2009

belgians eat japan fish in seattle

Barbecue weather was upon us, some of Johan's college friends from Belgium were here for a visit, and we wanted to treat them to some of the "local" cuisine. We'd been eating grilled salmon with bbq-roasted potatoes and salad and veg for a few weeks now, and while it tasted great, it was starting to get old. So a new twist: red miso marinated salmon, cold soba noodle salad, maneki-style green salad and soy-basted corn on the cob and presto-change-o, a meal we all (cross-culturally, cross-generationally), could enjoy. It was cool, fresh and oishii. I even impressed myself this time.

The under-five-set scarfed up the salmon and corn, asking for more, and even slurped up a few noodles. Not bad. The salad was something I'd made a few times, loosely basing it on one we've had at Maneki, a local Japanese restaurant we'd frequent a lot before having kids. Somehow, kid-wrangling in the tatami rooms kind of kills the fun of the food there, so needless to say we haven't been there in close to four years, and I was missing the place.

Red miso-marinated salmon (based on this recipe in Food and Wine)
1/4 cup red miso paste
1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil (I used grapeseed)
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3-4 pounds salmon filets
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 large scallions, thinly sliced

In a small bowl, whisk the miso paste with the canola and sesame oils, honey, vinegar and soy sauce. In a large, shallow glass or ceramic dish, pour the miso marinade over the salmon fillets and turn to coat completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 1 hour.

Light a grill and lightly brush it with oil. Lift the salmon fillets from the glaze and sprinkle both sides with the sesame seeds. Grill over a moderately hot fire for about 3 minutes per side, or until lightly charred and just cooked through. Transfer the salmon to a platter, sprinkle with the scallions and serve.

Maneki-style green salad
4 cups salad greens (get 'em from your garden, a head of lettuce, or a bagged mix; Maneki uses watercress, too)
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 cup grated daikon
1 can (15 oz) mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup caramelized pecans (see recipe below)
Ponzu dressing (see recipe below)

Arrange greens on a platter. Place grated daikon in mounds in randomly chosen spots, same with avocado, oranges, pecans. Drizzle with ponzu dressing. Enjoy.

Caramelized Pecans (adapted from Bon Appetit)
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole pecans

Preheat oven to 325;°F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine corn syrup, sugar and salt in large bowl. Stir to blend. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to baking sheet.

Place large piece of foil on work surface. Bake pecans 5 minutes. Using fork, stir pecans to coat with melted spice mixture. Continue baking until pecans are golden and coating bubbles, about 10 minutes. Transfer to foil. Working quickly, separate nuts with fork. Cool. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Ponzu dressing
1/4 cup ponzu
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Mix all ingredients together.

Cold Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce (thank you Mark Bittman)
12 ounces dried soba noodles
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used sunflower seed butter)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
At least 1/2 cup minced scallions for garnish

Cook the noodles in boiling salted water until tender but not mushy. Drain, then rinse in cold water for a minute or two. Toss with half the sesame oil and refrigerate up to 2 hours, or proceed with the recipe.

Beat together the peanut butter, sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar. Add a little salt and pepper to taste; thin the sauce with hot water if necessary, so that it is about the consistency of heavy cream.

Toss together the noodles and the sauce, and add more of any seasoning if necessary. Drizzle with the remaining sesame oil, garnish, and serve.

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