Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Salmon Tartare Asian Style With Chicon

This is my third time making raw fish tartare as apéro. Usually, my preferred raw fish for raw fish tartare is Tuna but it's very expensive compared to salmon! The species of Tuna available in the supermarket here is Nageoire Jaune or Albacore. The usual common seafood over here are flat fish, crevette grises, or mussels (my 2 darlings saw juicy ones clinging on the dike this afternoon :-P). Then... flashbacks of poor tunas that were caught before maturing age I saw in National Geographic channel not long ago made my hand grab that pack of salmon! Anyway, the results for this recipe turned out well and my guests were fine and loved it. One of my close Belgian friends, Aldina in Hamburg requested this recipe to be on my blog when she visited me in Penang but I postponed it for quite sometime (until she had to PM me for the recipe! Sorry, for giving the recipe late :-P and I hope your guests loved it as much as we did).

I served this tartare back then with large size papadums and boiled edamame beans. Now, I'm back in Belgium, I have the pleasure of eating kilos of Belgium 'White Gold' ~ the Chicon! The thought of serving this salmon tartare using the chicon leaves was because of the fresh and crunchy tasty leaves. I stil wonder why Chicons are considered bitter... I don't taste it that much actually. I had tasted worst than that with other vegetables like bitter gourd and some terrible Traditional Chinese Medicine when I was sick. The other reason(s) was I short of small plates and don't have those tiny individual serving bowls :-D Banana leaf did come across my mind but you can't eat it, right? :-D I stored minimum 2 kilos of chicon at a time in the fridge and why not using them?

Most importantly to remember when handling raw seafood and meat, clean your hands, utensils and working surfaces before and after thoroughly. Put raw ingredients in the fridge if you're not serving it before time. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much I did.

Salmon Tartare Asian Style With Chicon
Serves 6-8 persons

300 g Salmon fillet (w/o skin) ~ Sushi-grade quality
Several ears of Chicon (Belgian Endives) ~ I used about 1 kg!

60 ml Light Soya Sauce/Tamari
30 ml Fresh Lime Juice
1 tsp Lime zest ~ grated finely
½ tsp Garlic ~ grated from 1 large/2 small cloves
1 tsp Ginger ~ grated from a thumb-size ginger root
1 Shallots ~ sliced and chopped finely

1 tsp White Sesame seeds ~ toasted and lightly crushed
1 pc Red Chilli ~ deseeded and chopped finely
1 stalk Spring Onion ~ sliced diagonally into thin slices
Salt & Pepper to taste (optional)

1. Clean the raw salmon fillet under running water. Pat dry with kitchen paper and set aside.
2. Wash the Chicons properly and pat them dry. Trim off the browned ends, few outer leaves and any bruises. Leave it whole until needed as chicons turned brown and wilted quickly (I usually put them back in the fridge or covered it up in a drainer).
3. In a clean bottle or container with a lid, mix all the Marinade ingredients and give it a good shake until the ingredients well incorporated. Set aside until needed.
4. Cut the salmon steak into long strips and dice into cubes ~ roughly about 1 cm x 1 cm thickness or just the way you would prepare Salmon/Tuna Tartare. Be careful not to dice the fish too small or it would be mushy and break apart when you mix in the marinade.
5. In a bowl, add in the diced salmon and ¾ of the marinade mixture.With a spoon, slowly fold them together.Wrap up with cling film and refrigerate until time to serve.
6. When it's time to serve, make sure the salmon tartare changed color or turned opaque and the meat is 'springy' cooked by the Lime juice.Taste it again to make sure the tartare is well seasoned. Add more of the left over marinade if needed.
7. Add in the sliced spring onions, chopped chilli & lightly crushed toasted sesame seeds. Mix it well and serve in small individual serving bowls with separated chicon leaves or spoon the salmon tartare ready in the chicon leaves.
I put few whole chicons on the side so that the guests can have extras. If you like more pungent, try it with small amount of wasabi to give it a Japanese taste, bird's eye chillies or Scotch Bonnet to give extra kick for the adventurous guests :-) I suggest that you put separately the wasabi or chillies and let the daring guests help themselves.
You can use skin-on salmon steak which is a bit cheaper than skin-off salmon steaks. Just don't forget to remove the skin when you dice it! :-P This recipe is also wonderful and delicious with Tuna. You can use Lemon or Yuzu as well :-)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

G Is For... Gazpacho

It was hot and sunny few weeks ago that I decided to try my hands and knives for the first time to make Gazpacho ~ that famous cold soup slurped world wide! Every where I went, it's in the Summer Menu. It's so famous that food companies even produced it in tetra-paks, cans and bottles! It's one of Spain's famous export besides Paella, La Tomatina, Bull Fighting, Flamenco and... Real Madrid :-D Ok, I admit am not a football fan but I do knew few names here and there.

Gazpacho is a kind of seasonal raw soup with refreshing quality ingredients that's a sure hit and instantly remembered of European Summers besides it's suitable for vegetarians too. You won't go wrong if you serve it at dinner in those hot summer days! By the way, another similar cold soup to Gazpacho is the Vichyssoise (scroll down to the bottom page of how Vichyssoise influenced Anthony Bourdain and in entertainment). Traditionally, it's blended with hard bread (or stale bread) rather than serve separately as toasts with or without onions. Some people don't like hard bread incorporated into the soup :-) Of course, you can add hard boiled eggs, ham, croutons, almonds if you want to make other variation of non-vegetarian cold raw soups like Salmorejo and Ajo Blanco or Gazpacho Manchego which is a meat stew (mainly rabbit and chicken meat) from La Mancha, Spain.

So, here's my first try of traditional homemade Gazpacho or Gazpacho Andaluz with seasonal ingredients! I don't use mortar and pestle for the pounding of vegetables even though is sometimes favoured to give the soup textures and to avoid foaming created by food processors. I imagined with horror, a large barrel-size mortar, long pestle pounding away with loads of vegetable chunks strewing everywhere on the kitchen floor... and a chirpy 3 ½ year old, happily picking up the scraps? Oooofff... :-|

Gazpacho Andaluz
Serves 4-6 portions

To be blended in food processor:
½ Cucumber ~ skinned, deseeded & chopped roughly
5 nos Red Tomatoes ~ deseeded & diced (choose medium size sun ripened tomatoes)
1 no Yellow Onion/White Onion ~ medium size, roughly diced
½ Red Capsicum ~deseeded & diced
2 cloves Garlic
3 slices of hard breads (or stale bread) ~ wholemeal or white, no problem
1 Liter Water
2 Tbl Red Wine Vinegar/Xérès Vinegar
3 Tbl Olive Oil
2 Tbl Tomato Concentrate
Sea Salt & freshly grounded Black Pepper to taste

½ Yellow Onion/White Onion - finely diced
½ Cucumber ~ deseeded & diced
½ Green Capsicum ~ deseeded & diced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil ~ for drizzling, generously

1. In a food processor, add in the vegetables and stale bread. Blend them into a mixture. Add in the salt and pepper to taste. Then the vinegar and blend the mixture again until it's smooth and creamy.
2. While the food processor still turning, add in the olive oil and tomato concentrate.
3. Pour into a soup tureen or pot and chill it minimum 2 hours in the refrigerator. Just before serving, check the taste again and adjust if necessary.
4. Ladle the gazpacho into individual bowls or soup plates and sprinkle the reserved garnishes over the soup.

Note: I like to use Yellow Onion for this soup because I like it's stronger and complex flavour that complements the Capsicums and vinegar. You can use milder and sweeter white onions or omit it if preferred as sometimes it's not included in the Andalusian region . To chill the soup faster, I poured it into a stainless steel pot ( I would love to have it in a Soup Tureen but I don't want to break it accidently) or if you use a tall blender, you can just put the whole jug in the fridge. If you think it's too liquid, you can start with 800 ml of water and slowly add extra water to achieve the consistency you like... or lessen the liquid to make Arranque Roteño, gazpacho cream :-)



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