Thursday, September 19, 2013

i heart bunashimeji!

I've been craving a Far East-inspired dish for quite some time, but never really got around to making anything remotely close.  Welp, it seems as though this idea possessed me the other day, and the following dish was the result! I returned to my favorite old Japanese grocery store up the avenue a bit and, as per usual, got some pretty phenom stuff.  Nira (chinese chives), fresh lotus root, and some beautiful salmon that was pretty much a steal! 100% buckwheat soba noodles? Got 'em.  I was able to combine a few of my favorite things in life into one dish, and it turned out stunning.  Give it a try!

Bunashimeji Mushroom and Pea Shoot Saute, Salmon, Spicy Sesame Soba
Serves 2
2 T coconut oil 
1/2 lb. salmon filet, skinned and portioned into two
1 lg garlic clove, minced (~1 tsp minced)
4 cups pea shoots, washed & roughly torn
2 cups bunashimeji (beech) mushrooms, separated
3 T soy sauce
about a quarters' diameter bunch of soba noodles (seriously)
1 t sesame oil
1/2 t hot chili oil
Fresh ground black pepper

This recipe is so quick and easy that it hurts my feelings (and makes me happy at the same time).  This is speed cooking! I'm going to give a straightforward play by play, so it's a little different from some other recipes.  Regardless, prepare yourself.  Get one saute pan out, a medium saucepan, and a cast iron skillet.  Two saute pans with a saucepan can work as well...and you are ready to go!

First, season the salmon fillets with salt and a bit of pepper.  Let sit out.  Fill the saucepan about 3/4 of the way with water, heat up over high heat, and bring to a boil. At the same time heat the saute pan over medium heat, and add in 1 T coconut oil.  When the oil heats up, toss in the minced garlic and cook for about a minute.  Next, toss in the pea shoots and ensure they get coated with the garlic/oil combination.  Cook, tossing occasionally, for about two minutes until the leaves start to wilt. While the pea shoots are cooking, heat up the cast iron pan over medium/medium-high heat. 

Once the pea shoots are bright green and al dente, add the mushrooms, and toss to combine. Cook for about 1 minute, and drizzle in the soy sauce. Toss a few times, and let cook.  Bring down to a simmer.  

At this point, the water should be boiling. Toss in the soba noodles and gently stir until they are completely immersed in the water.  Boil for 4 minutes.

Heat up the last 2 tablespoons os coconut oil in the cast iron pan.  Once it is melted and up to heat, place the salmon in the pan, seasoned side down.  Let cook...and don't touch it! 

So at this point, three things should be happening. The pea shoots and mushrooms should be gently simmering away, the soba noodles should be boiling, and the salmon should be getting a nice sear on it.  
When the soba noodles are done, drain them quickly, and place in a bowl.  Toss with sesame oil and chili oil - the more chili oil, the merrier in my book!  Set aside.

Keep an eye on the salmon - once it is easily removed from, without sticking to the pan (about 5 minutes), it's ready to flip.  It should be beautifully golden on the one side, and only need about a minute to cook just through to a medium-rare. 

Plating time!  Between two plates, divide the soba noodles and the pea/mushroom saute. Place the Salmon on top of the saute and top with a couple of beech mushrooms.  I decided to get fancy and add chinese chives and lotus root, but that's obnoxious and not necessary.

Seriously, the result of this dish is ridiculous.  So simple, and phenomenally tasty...not to mention super healthy as well!  100% buckwheat soba noodles are my guilty pleasure.  Tossed with a little sesame oil and chili oil, you can't get much better than that! But you added this veg saute and some salmon. What! The bunashimeji mushrooms are delicate and soft, and add a nice texture to the saute, while the peas give it an overall sweetness.  The coconut oil used throughout gives a really subtle nuttiness to the dish. I highly suggest using coconut oil to cook with. If you get that golden sear on the salmon, it adds a definite crunch to each bite.  Overall, a beautiful dish which a huge depth of flavor!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

cheese & avocado salad? you bet.

So, I guess this could technically be called a "salad" could also technically be called a "fruit salad" as well, which is bizarre. Regardless, this is a solid combination of goodies! It's inspired by my favorite sandwich of all time, from the now defunct Frankies Spuntino on the LES...the cheese and avocado sandwich! I never thought I would have a longing for a sandwich, but apparently that is a thing that can legitimately happen.   I thought I would fiddle around with the components of the sandwich and see how it turned out.  I'll tell you how: AMAZING.  I literally devoured this.  So give it a shot! 

Literally these are the only things in the world you need for least for the time being.  The Sriracha bitters can be omitted, because it's obviously not the most accessible ingredient.  But real sriracha is a must!

Cheese & Avocado Salad
Serves 2
1 avocado
2 Pink Lady apples
1/2 cup sprouts (these are clover and arugula sprouts)
A small block of good cheddar - I used 2-yr aged Grafton Cheddar
Olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper

So here's the deal! Obviously, I have a thing for plating dishes, so my rendition is more complicated than it really has to be.  For the purpose of ease, you can make a rough chop of the avocado and apples as opposed to getting all crazy.  But what's the fun in that!? I took one of the apples and thinly sliced it whole with the mandolin to create a base for the salad.  Just a few slices for each plate.  Next, half the avocado, remove the pit, and cut each side again in half.   Peel away the skin from the avocado and discard - a properly ripened avocado should peel away easily.  With two of the wedges, thinly slice (not all the way through both ends) and fan out, placing it atop the apple slices.   Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a crack of black pepper.  

Next, make an avocado and apple brunoise.  Combine the apple and avocado pieces in a bowl, and toss with about 1-2 T of good olive oil, a pinch of salt and a solid cracking of black pepper.  Toss to combine.  In a separate bowl, season the sprouts.  Add about 1 T olive oil, and 1/2t of sriracha.  You could use more sriracha if you like, but don't get too aggressive!

Separate the sprouts between each place, as well as the brunoise.  Sprinkle the brunoise around the entire plate.  To finish, peel a bunch of cheddar over each plate. Grab a fork and knife, and enjoy!

Full disclosure, I put more sriracha on my salad at the end...because I'm obsessed with sriracha.  Not necessary though if you don't want that level of heat!  This really turned out great, and may be a mainstay in my repertoire.  Apples and cheddar are a timeless combination, so we don't really need to get into that.  The avocado adds a depth of creaminess to the dish, while the sprouts add that nice vegetal tang.  The sriracha gives it nice kick, as well as a hint of the familiar sriracha flavor.  Finally, the aged cheddar adds a level of umami that wouldn't really be reached without it.  Such a great combination, and super healthy at that.  Get out and make this asap!