As a Californian, few bites of food make me happier than Fish Tacos from Mexico’s Baja. Even when those fish tacos are a Caribbean/Mexican cultural mashup of Coconut Shrimp Tacos inspired by two separate travel memories.
As for their Mexican origin, the city of Ensenada and the town of San Felipe both claim their version as the original. Both also seem to have the facts to prove it. Ensenada insists we credit their Japanese migrants for the crispy tempura-style batter they prefer, and San Felipe residents believe a mustardy beer batter is better suited to the local climate and should, therefore, take precedence. Ensenada serves the fish in corn tortillas exclusively, San Felipe lets you choose corn or flour.
Here in taco-mad Los Angeles, you’re just as likely to see a California-style grilled version. My point is when it comes to Fish Tacos I’m hardly bound by local loyalties. Still, I like what I like and I like these Caribbean-inspired Coconut Shrimp Tacos just as much as the Baja Fish Tacos Ensenada and San Felipe bicker about.
Coconut Shrimp Tacos
While I’m mashing up cuisines I might as well conflate my travel memories too. You see I’ve just returned from Loreto, Mexico. This is my second trip to the Southern Baja town in 2019. So it’s safe to say I like it there. Besides its proximity to Los Angeles (1 hrs 38 mins via airplane), one of the things I like best about the place is the casual approach to food. Most especially tacos. Loreto is a town where you’ll find tempura-style tacos at one restaurant and beer batter tacos at another. It’s the only place this Ensenada-initiated taco lover will order flour tortillas with no humiliation.
On my first trip to Loreto in JanuaryI discovered a small bar on the main street of town with a difficult to pronounce name – Tlalocan. I liked the friendly owner/bartender Carlos very much so Ken and I made Tlalocan an everyday stop while we were there. Sure, Carlos makes a great Margarita but he also has a secret taco menu. On this menu there’s an unusual Coconut Shrimp Taco that’s just sweet enough. In a town like Loreto where most of the fish tacos are one or the other of the two styles I mentioned, Tlalocan’s creative take on my favorite street food stands out. Besides I’ve spent enough time in the Caribbean to have a soft spot for Coconut Shrimp deep-fried to a robust crunch.
Sadly, on this last trip to Loreto over Easter and Passover Tlalocan wasn’t open. We checked in dutifully every afternoon, but it remained quite closed. Then on our last full day in town Carlos had returned and Tlalocan was open. But his cook was still out. So no Coconut Shrimp Tacos.
Naturally I came home and got to work on recreating those tacos for myself. Wouldn’t you? GREG
1 ½ poundmedium shrimp(peeled and deveined with tails removed)
salt and pepper(as needed for seasoning)
4-6 cupvegetable oil(depending on pan size)
8-10 warm (4 to 6-inch) tortillas
2 cupshredded red cabbage
1 cupMexican crema(you can subtitute sour cream thinned with a small amount of milk)
lime wedges(as needed)
Mix coconut and breadcrumbs together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Beat the eggs and sugar together in a separate medium bowl. Set aside.
Season shrimp with salt and pepper on both sides. Working in batches, dip shrimp in the egg mixture to coat completely; lift (shaking off any excess), and dredge in coconut mixture. Lay on a baking sheet.
In a large, deep heavy-bottom pan, heat oil over medium heat until 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Cook half the shrimp, lightly shaking to separate shrimp, turning as needed until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer shrimp to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 350 degrees; repeat with remaining shrimp.
To serve, fill the tortillas with your desired number of shrimp, then top generously with shredded red cabbage, crema, and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve immediately.
I’ve pickled plenty of stuff on this blog: mangoes, mustard seeds, even a few little birds. So it easy to see how pickled raisins would be my kind of thing. Sweet. Savory. Unexpected. Which sounds like a metaphor for a happy life. Well, at least to me it does.
So with no real plan on how to use them, I went ahead and pickled some golden raisins in much the same manner as Chef Sterling. I was that excited to taste them. Of course, I knew they’d be sweet and sour. But I wasn’t prepared for the bold way those golden raisins were plumped and recharged by the cider vinegar. I knew I had to use their bright bite of acidity in a recipe and quick. So I tossed them with the cauliflower I was roasting anyway, and indeed my life is happier for it. GREG
Make the pickled golden raisins: Place vinegar, raisins, and a pinch of saffron (about 15 threads) in a small non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiled remove from heat; let cool to room temperature.
Roast the cauliflower: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°.
Place the cauliflower florets in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Spread the cauliflower on a large, parchment-covered rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 30 minutes, tossing the florets halfway through to ensure even cooking until browned in spots and tender. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Spoon 2 or 3 tablespoons of the golden raisin pickling liquid over the cauliflower, then drain the raisins, discarding the remaining liquid and place the raisins and the toasted pinenuts in the bowl with the cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Serve immediately.
I thought about you guys just now because I’m eating pasta. Do you remember when I used to make default pasta here on Sippity Sup? Well, of course, you don’t – you’re too young. That was eons ago. But I did want you to know I still eat pasta, and the pasta I’m eating is Chicken Liver Ragu.
Though it’s not default pasta. It’s recipe pasta. Chicken Liver Ragu from a Food & Wine recipe.
Am I going too fast? Does any of that ring a bell? If not let me introduce myself. Hi! Remember me? I’m Greg. I used to be a blogger. I’ve been lurking around these inter-webs for more than 10-years. Back then I’d develop whole posts around something I called default pasta.
Default pasta made an appearance at my dinner table at least once a week. That’s because there’s not always time to plan and shop for a specific menu. So default pasta is about winging it with what you have on hand. For me, it was a creative way to spend time in the kitchen and come up with recipes for my blog that weren’t available anywhere else. That’s the kind of blogger I used to be.
These days my mind is on so many things that I’m having a little trouble finding my Sippity Sup mojo. After pushing out more than 2000 posts it’s a bit like postpartum depression I imagine. Not that a food blog is like a baby. Oh wait, what am I saying? That’s exactly what a food blog is like. Because in order to thrive, a blog takes constant care and feeding.
So if the blog has gotta eat and I gotta eat, then, of course, I gotta feed you, my virtual eaters, too. Still. I can’t get past the lazy in the kitchen blues these days. So at dinnertime, I’ve been turning to recipes written and tested by sources I trust. I figure if these recipes are good enough for my kitchen table, they’re good enough for this blog. At least for now… GREG
PS: The Chicken Liver Ragu source recipe suggested serving this sauce with rigatoni, but, in keeping with default pasta tradition of the old days I used what I had – bombolotti. Otherwise known as half rigatoni.
12 ouncedried tube-shaped pasta(such as rigatoni or bombolotti)
5 tablespooncold, unsalted butter(cut into ½-inch cubes, divided)
¼ cupfienly chopped shallot
1 ½ teaspoondry sherry
3/4 cupchicken stock
3 ouncechicken liver mousse
3/4 ounceParmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated(plus more for garnish)
2 teaspoonchopped fresh rosemary(plus more for garnish)
1 teaspoonsherry vinegar
¼ teaspoonfreshly cracked black pepper
Bring water to boil over high heat. Stir in kosher salt. Cook pasta until very al dente, about 3 minutes shorter than package directions call for.
While pasta cooks, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium. Cook, stirring often, until butter smells slightly nutty and turns light golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add shallot; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add sherry; cook until slightly reduced, about 20 seconds. Add stock; bring to a simmer over medium-high. Gradually whisk in 2 tablespoons butter, one piece at a time, waiting until butter is nearly melted before adding the next piece. Return to a simmer over medium-high; simmer 1 minute.
Using tongs or a spider, transfer pasta to skillet, reserving cooking liquid in pot. Increase heat under skillet to high. Gradually stir in chicken liver mousse (about 2 tablespoons at a time), alternating with cooking liquid (about ¼ cup at a time), stirring and shaking skillet constantly, until a creamy sauce forms and coats the pasta, making sure each addition of mousse is creamy and blended before the next addition, 4 to 5 minutes total.
Remove skillet from heat; stir in cheese, rosemary, vinegar, pepper, and remaining 1 tablespoon butter until blended. Divide among 4 bowls; garnish with additional cheese and rosemary.
Burnt is in quotations because the char on top is from a hot, hot oven and it’s intentional. I’m always excited by the challenge of cooking with high heat. But cheesecake, really? I thought a low oven and a Bain Marie were the keys to success.
But this cheesecake is a Basque Cheesecake invented in San Sebastián, Spain. It’s becoming rather notorious on global tables here in Los Angeles. Naturally, I was intrigued because it’s impossible to talk about this city’s food without focusing on multiculturalism.
With more than 60 types of national cuisines available somewhere around town, Angelenos can feast on everything from Honduran cuisine to Venezuelan, Hungarian, Russian, and Burmese. We even have Thai and Indian food so regionally specific that for many immigrants it’s like they never left their parents’ kitchen.
Now I’m not Basque (and I’ve never even been there) but as soon as I saw this recipe I got out the bowls and I cranked up the oven. After all, this Burnt Basque Cheesecake only has five simple ingredients and one of them is the globally-ubiquitous Philadelphia brand cream cheese. According to Chef Beran, it must be Philadelphia; “other brands don’t work as well.”
The other trick to this recipe is the oven. It must be HOT. Make sure it’s fully heated and completely stable at 450 degrees Fahrenheit before the cake goes in. Don’t use a convection oven either. This is important because the key to success with the Burnt Basque Cheesecake is the texture. Caramelized and charred on the outside while barely cooked and smooth on the inside. So smooth that it would actually ooze across the plate if served at room temperature.
Which is exactly how it’s served in San Sebastián. But Chef Beran prefers to chill the cake overnight and cut it cold. He considers it “more deceiving and more surprising by giving it structure while keeping it oozy.” GREG
Print This RecipeTotal timeYield10-12Source Dave Beran/Dialogue Santa MonicaPublished
cooking spray(as needed)
4 (8 oz) packages Philadelphia Cream Cheese(cut into 1-inch cubes)
1 ⅓ cupgranulated sugar
9 large egg yolks
½ teaspoonkosher salt
1 ¼ cupcrème fraîche
Heat the oven to 450 degrees with rack in bottom third.
Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Line with a 15-inch square of parchment paper, pressing it into the bottom and up the sides so that it extends above the rim of the pan. Crease and fold the paper as needed to keep it flat. Spray the parchment.
Put the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolks and salt in a food processor. Pulse until very smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the crème fraîche and pulse until fully incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then tap the pan against a work surface a few times to smooth the top and eliminate air bubbles. Put on a half-sheet pan, then put in the oven.
Bake until the top is dark brown, the edges set and starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, but the center is still quite jiggly, 20 to 25 minutes. If you shake the pan back and forth, the top should roll like a gentle wave.
Cool in the pan on a rack until room temperature, then refrigerate uncovered overnight.
To serve, release and remove the sides of the pan. Use the parchment to slide the cheesecake off the base onto a cutting board, then pull down the sides of the parchment. Use a sharp knife to cut slices, wiping the blade clean after each cut.
Gambero Rosso (red prawn, to you) invited me and Helen (media comps) to attend their annual 8-city U.S. tasting tour. Fortunately, one was in Los Angeles! This event is a wonderful opportunity to sample just released award-winning Italian wines. A Tre Bicchieri (three glasses) rating indicates an extraordinary wine – of which there were many. My sip/spit partner, Helen, will share her finely-tuned impressions of the standouts (see below). KEN
Gambero Rosso, Tre Bicchieri 2019! I look forward to this tasting event every year. Italian wines brim with sublime flavors both familiar and unfamiliar. It is very easy to overwhelm the palate (and the liver!) with so many wonderful wines of distinction being poured. The temptation is to head for the tried and true, the Chianti Gran Seleziones and the Barolos, but venturing a little off the beaten track pays dividends at this event.
Semidano is a very rare grape from Sardinia that was at one time thought to be extinct. Semidano di Mogoro Sup. Puisteris , 2016, is a revelation with a light and luscious explosion of Lychee, lemon stone and a dash of saline. It manages to be both delicate and powerful – imagine if Ariana Grande was a wine.
Nerello Mascalese is grown in the Mount Etna region of Sicily. It thrives on the elevation and rich volcanic soil. From the Pietradolce Vineyard on the Northern slopes of Etna, Etna Rosso Contrada Rampante, 2016 is a mouthful of heaven from the highest elevation of the vineyard. Ripe berries, fennel, earthy spices dance beautifully together. Sensational. A little lower in the same vineyard, the Etna Archineri, 2016 is a light and elegant combination of rose petals, sage, and red berries.
From Puglia, the Nero Di Troia grape produces an exceptional wine, Castel del Monte Rosso V. Pedale Riserva, 2015. This was a delight to taste – a perfectly balanced red with integrated acidity, tannins for structure, perfume (Lavender and Sandalwood) on the nose, and plum liquorice on the palate.
The region of Emilia Romagne produced some of my favorite expressions of Sangiovese, such as the $25.00 (a steal at that price) Poderi Dal Nespoli Romagne Sangiovese Superiore DOP Prugneto, 2017. It tantalizes with lush blueberry fruit pole dancing around eucalyptus and spice on firm structured tannins. Romagne Sangiovese Sup. Tre Rocche, 2017 had a similar beautiful balance of fruit and structure.
Tre Bicchieri 2019
Back on the beaten track, the Super Tuscans produced my Tre Bicchieri 2019 “Best In Show.” Tenuto di Biserno “Biserno” 2012.
The man behind Biserno is Lodovico Antinori. His family is famous in Tuscany and they were very involved in pioneering Super Tuscan wines (These are made from Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, which are non-traditional grapes for the region that nonetheless flourish in Tuscany). Lodovico founded the prestigious Ornellaia label. Financial woes and upheavals forced him to sell his stake in the label, which would eventually become wholly owned by his nemesis, the Frescobaldi Empire.
Lodovico first discovered the property that would become Tenuto di Biserno, when he was looking to expand the vineyards of Ornellaia. Due to the differences in geology, he decided it would not be the right fit for that label, but he became passionate about the land for his new project. He planted it between 2001 and 2005 and made Cabernet Franc (as opposed to the Merlot in Ornellaia) the star blending grape. Tenuto di Biserno “Biserno,” 2012, is an outstanding wine, something everyone should taste once in his or her lifetime. When I started to swish the succulent plums and spice around my mouth, some strange magic took over and I did something I almost never do at a wine tasting event… I swallowed! I swallowed and I wanted more! Next, I urged Ken to join me in a side-by-side tasting of the spectacular, huge and round, Le Serre Nouove dell’Ornellaia, 2016, and the sensational “Biserno.” We both agreed immediately that Lodovico’s newest venture knocks it into the solar system. Be warned though, the current price of $133.50 a bottle is sure to increase as word gets out to dedicated enophiles. The Ornellaia is still no slouch and at a price point around $58.00 may be more within reach. HELEN
Which means, because I’m a never say never guy, vegan cooking interests me much more than vegan eating. If eating vegan was my sole goal then it would be easy to find great vegan treats at restaurants, cafés, and bakeries. It’s a little trickier to have an interest in vegan cooking. Especially vegan baking. Because baking is more of a science than an art, swapping and eliminating ingredients from a traditional cake, cookie, or muffin recipe just won’t work.
Besides, good baking relies on practice as well as knowing your ingredients and understanding how they behave. Vegan baking is a brave new world. It requires the cook to find replacements for the eggs and butter that have traditionally formed the backbone of baking. I don’t have the skills to pull that off on my own. Which is why I turned to an expert recipe when I decided I wanted to give vegan baking a try. This Carrot-Ginger Black Sesame Loaf is reminiscent of a well-made – but restrained – carrot cake. I love its rich texture and the adult air about it. It’s sweet and simple, but incredibly moist and unexpectedly sesame-studded, with a lovelyginger kick too.
I served this Carrot-Ginger Black Sesame Loaf as dessert, but I believe its creator, Jessica Koslow of Sqirl LA, intended it as a breakfast food. I’m always surprised when I step into Sqirl and get in line behind all the health-conscious Angelenos who come to eat dessert for breakfast! I guess this recipe is exactly the kind of thing they’re looking for.
Which is my way of saying be warned, vegan isn’t necessarily shorthand for healthy. In the manner of a granola bar hoping to pass muster as a health food, there’s enough sugar in this cake to keep the calorie count worth counting. Still, even if you’re the type to never say never (like me) you won’t miss the meat, cheese, eggs, cream, or butter. GREG
Print This RecipeTotal timeYield8Source Everything I Want to Eat by Jessica KoslowPublished
Although the recipe didn’t call for it, I like to line my loaf pan with parchment paper. Especially with recipes like this one when I don’t want to have to invert the pan to remove the cake.
½ cupvegetable oil(plus more for pan)
250 gramall-purpose flour(about 2 cups, plus more for pan)
1 ½ teaspoonbaking powder
2 teaspoonground cinnamon
135 gramgranulated sugar(about 2/3 cup)
145 grambrown sugar(about 2/3 cup)
½ cupunsweetened applesauce
⅓ cupalmond milk
1 (2-inch) piece of fresh ginger(peeled and finely grated)
1 teaspoonvanilla extract
3/4 teaspoonfine sea salt
200 gramcoarsely grated carrot
2-3 tablespoonblack sesame seeds(or more as needed)
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Brush the inside surfaces of an 8 ½ by 4 ½-inch loaf pan with a little oil. Dust with flour, tapping out any excess.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, applesauce, almond milk, ginger, vanilla, and salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture, followed by the carrots, and finally the oil.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the sesame seeds. You want it to be completely covered in seeds. Bake until the loaf has puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes.
That’s a true statement. “If you’re making a beet salad, you could emulsify some of the cooked beets and use them in the dressing.” Another Jessica Koslow truism and it’s exactly how she gets more pears into this dish. Raw, thinly sliced pears served with pears caramelized in butter then whirled and emulsified into a vinaigrette. Simply delicious!
However, it’s the combination of warm buttery-browned sprouts and raw nutty-crisp sprouts that makes this way more than just another Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad. GREG
“Warren pears are super sweet and have a velvety, grit-free texture like butter that gives this dressing great body. If you can’t find any, use red d’Anjou.” Jessica Koslow
2-3 Warren pears(1 pound 5 oz. or 600 g. total)
6 tablespoonunsalted butter(85 g.)
2 tablespoonchampagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
fine sea salt
½ cupextra-virgin olive oil
2 ½ poundBrussels sprouts, trimmed(just over 1.1 kg.)
1 tablespoonsherry vinegar
3/4 cuppomegranate arils(130 g.)
⅓ cuptoasted chopped hazelnuts(45 g.)
¼ cuplightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish(13 g.)
Cut the pears lengthwise into quarters, scoop out the cores, and trim off the stems.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a wide pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 pear (4 quarters), cut sides down, to the pan and cook until lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Rotate and caramelize the other cut sides for another 1 to 2 minutes, until tender but not mushy.
Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the champagne vinegar, honey, and ½ teaspoon salt. Blend until completely pureed. Then, with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil and continue blending until the dressing is emulsified.
Cut 1 lbs. (455 g.) of the Brussels sprouts in half. Doing so will cause some of the outermost leaves to fall off. Keep the loose leaves in a little pile on your cutting board.
Return the pan to the stove and heat over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons (60 g.) butter. As soon as the foam subsides, add the cut Brussels to the pan, arranging each one cut side down. (I know this seems like a pain, but it will ensure that the sprouts cook evenly.) Cook, without stirring the sprouts, for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip, season evenly with ½ teaspoon salt, and cook the rounded sides for another 2 minutes.
Add the reserved outer leaves and the sherry vinegar, and shake the pan to distribute. Cook for 10 more seconds, just to wilt the leaves, then transfer to a plate.
Shave the remaining raw Brussels sprouts thinly on a mandoline. (Fingers, be careful!) This takes forever with a knife, but a food processor fitted with a slicing/shredding blade would also work. Toss the shaved sprouts into a large bowl. Add the pomegranate seeds, hazelnuts, parsley, about three-quarters of the dressing, and ½ teaspoon salt.
Toss to coat everything well. Taste, adding a bit more salt or dressing to the plate if you want. Thinly slice the remaining pear quarters. Serve the salad with the pan-roasted Brussels and the sliced pears tucked in. Finish with a big squeeze of lemon juice, and a handful of parsley on top.
Vitello Tonnato: tuna, capers, anchovies, and mayo whirled in a blender then slathered over thin slices of chilled veal. It’s the ultimate Italian picnic feast – served on a hot day in the cool shade of an olive tree. I love this dish for the mere fact that you can take something as special as veal, and disguise it with a sauce made of canned tuna.
Tonnato Chip Dip
So why can’t I flip that formula on its head and take sauce as special as tonnato and serve it on something as simple as a potato chip? After all, as a kid didn’t you peel off the top of your tuna fish sandwich just so you could adorn it with crushed potato chips? You were one smart eight-year-old. You knew that the only thing missing from a tuna fish sandwich was the crunch.
So grab a bag of Ruffles and get ready for a Tonnato chip dip! It’s simply too odd not to adore. GREG
Pictures don’t always tell the whole story. I’m pretty thrilled with the Ottolenghi-inspired Herb Fritters you see here. Brown and misshapen, I admit they’re not much to look at. That’s one of the problems facing food bloggers these days. If you want to reach a wide audience your food has to look extra-special scrumptious. Wrapping it in bacon works. So do colorful sprinkles and peanut butter swirls.
It’s true that peanut butter swirls look pretty and get loads of shares (especially when they are tied up in a bow), but they don’t always ignite the imaginations of the more mature palates among us. It’s kind of a Catch 22 because sites like Pinterest and Instagram have brought food bloggers together as a powerful community, but it has also played a part in limiting what defines good food on the web. Leaving delicious but less than gorgeous food un-loved and un-clicked.
That’s why I feel so sad for these delicious little fritters. Sure they look like hard brown hockey pucks. But they’re not, I promise you. In fact, these Herb Fritters – like all good fritters – are tender and fragile. The sort you have to handle carefully, turning them gently in the pan.
Fortunately, a pretty dip or a drizzle makes a welcome accompaniment for Herb Fritters. Bright green tahini has just the right bit of bling. Its hue is so vibrant it almost make these ugly ducklings, deliciously laced with currants and walnuts, ready for their Instagram closeup. GREG
5 ouncefresh green herbs, soft textured leaves only, roughly chopped(choose a combination such as, dill, basil, and cilantro)
1 ½ teaspoonground cumin
¼ cupchopped toasted walnuts
canola oil(as needed)
Place tahini, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and salt in a blender. Run the machine, covered, for about 30 seconds then pour in up to ½ cup water to adjust the sauce to the desired consistency. Adding the water at the end improves the color. Set the sauce aside or refrigerate, covered, up to five days.
Cut the sandwich bread, soft crusts and all, into small dice then run them through the food processor to make coarse breadcrumbs. Set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, fresh herbs, cumin, currants, walnuts, and fresh breadcrumbs. Set aside a few moments so that the flavors meld.
Meanwhile, heat about ¼-inch canola oil in a medium saute pan set over medium heat. Use a small ladle to spoon the batter into the hot oil. Use the ladle to flatten the batter as needed into 3-inch discs about ½-inch thick. Once they’re in the oil let them sit undisturbed for a minute or two to allow them to develop a firm, browned crust on the bottom, once firm tenderly flip each one with a spatula. Brown the other side then carefully move the fragile fritters to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season each fritter with a little salt while it’s still hot. Continue with the remaining batter. Do not crowd the pan.
Seared salmon is one of the easiest ways I know to cook fish. I know there are people out there who have a bit of fear when it comes to cooking fish. If that describes you then this is a good technique to master because it is very straightforward and even a bit intuitive if you pay attention.
Start with the salmon – choose salmon fillets with the skin on then wash and dry each one with a paper towel then place the fillets on a plate and refrigerate them, uncovered (yes uncovered), at least one hour. Drying them this way is very important in achieving that super crunchy skin that is so delicious. Wet fillets just don’t crisp up.
Choose a pan that is large enough to give each fillet plenty of room. I like cast iron. It gets good and hot, which means the seared salmon won’t stick to the pan. You really don’t need a non-stick pan. I don’t even own one. When properly cooked this fish will release itself at the right time. I promise.
To begin: Once your fish is dry and chilled, season both sides with kosher salt. Place the pan over medium-high heat. Once it gets very, very hot, almost smoking; swirl in a tablespoon or two of canola oil and place the salmon, skin side down into the pan. Cook it until the skin is very crisp, dark brown and releases easily. This should take 3 to 4 minutes. Do not be tempted to check or move the fish around in the pan during this time. You will only succeed in making it stick to the pan or worse ruin your beautifully crisp skin.
Another thing about seared salmon is the noticeable changes it goes through as it cooks. Fatty fish like salmon will visibly shrink as soon as it hits the pan. Watch for this. It is key in indicating that your pan is properly heated.
Also pay close attention to the fish as it cooks. Not only will it release itself and flip very easily. But you can also literally watch it cook. The change is dramatic and easy to see. You will notice that the fish gets lighter and more opaque. Do not let it cook more than about 1/4 of the way through at this point. You might be worried that the rest of the fish seems quite raw, but honestly this is a good thing.
Once the skin has crisped flip the fish, and cook it an additional two minutes more or so depending on thickness and how much you like the fish to be cooked. Do not let it cook all the way through. The fish will continue to cook after it leaves the pan. Your goal is a succulent flesh graduating from a rare center outwards to a crispy crackly skin. If you are unsure, please err on the side of less cooked. There is no reason to be squeamish about fish. You really are throwing away good money if you overcook your salmon.
I am serving this seared salmon very simply with a “salsa” of green olives, capers, currants, celery, and saffron from Yotam Ottolenghi. GREG
4-5 large green olives(pitted and cut in ⅓-inch dice))
¼ teaspoonsaffron threads(mixed in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons warm water)
1 pinchkosher salt
2 tablespoonfresh parsley leaves(roughly chopped)
1 teaspoonfinely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoonfresh lemon juice
Cover the currants with boiling water and leave to soak at least 20 minutes.
Put olive oil in a saute pan set over high heat. Add the celery and pine nuts, and cook stirring frequently, until the nuts begin to brown, about 3 minutes (don’t take your eyes off them, because they burn easily). Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the capers and their brine, the olives, saffron and its water, and a pinch of salt. Drain the currants and add these with the parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Set aside no more than 1 hour before use.