Friday, June 29, 2012

Chopped Salmon Belly

What follows is a stalwart recipe in my repertoire, not least because it lends itself so proteanly to being served either hearty family style or, as but one appetite whetting morsel of a course in the procession of a multitudinous meal. I turn to the recipe time and again because it performs as outstandingly whether heaped generously over hot sticky Japanese rice or daintily  dolloped into a delicately pretty dish as a gullet amusing bite. How many recipes can lay claim to that sort of spectrum spanning diversity?

As with most good things, it defies being justly named. I am loathe to call it a tartare, for all sorts of reasons the semantics of which I shall not bore you with. And to call it negisake, the corollary of tuna-based negitoro, seemed, well, lame, and I just wasn't feeling it. So Chopped Salmon Belly it is.

However you parse it, I can only sincerely hope you see through my plainspeak choice of a name to try what is in all honesty a rather extraordinary recipe. Which is not to say tricky or involved. It couldn't be easier, in truth. What is however critical is to use sashimi-grade salmon belly, the nicest you can find, real fatty so it practically melts in the mouth. And a bleedingly sharp knife. A pantry well-stocked with Japanese condiments also doesn't hurt, the lack of which simply means more fun exploring the aisles of your friendly neighbourhood Japanese supermarket.

Happy chopping (and shopping, sorry I couldn't resist!)!

Chopped Salmon Belly
Yields 2 servings as a meal with rice, 6 servings as an appetizer

250gm sashimi-grade salmon belly
2 stalks of negi or spring onions
1 myoga ginger flower bud
3 shiso leaves
1 Tbsp usukuchi light soy sauce, or to taste
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp shiro miso
5cm piece of young ginger, peeled and very finely grated
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and very finely grated
1 dash of sansho pepper, or to taste
1 dash of freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 dash of ichimi togarashi, or to taste
100gm tobiko

To finish:
100gm ikura
Shichimi togarashi or toasted black sesame seeds

1.Divide the salmon belly into 2 equal portions. Chop one portion very finely - minced almost to a paste really. This is much easier if the salmon is really cold and your knife is very sharp. Chop the other portion into 1cmx1cm cubes. Set aside.
2.Very finely slice the negi and myoga. Set aside.
3.Very finely chop the shiso. Set aside.
4.In a mixing bowl, combine the usukuchi, mirin, miso, ginger, garlic, sansho, black pepper and ichimi, stirring to blend well.
5.Add the finely chopped salmon belly, negi, myoga and shiso to the bowl, stirring quite vigorously so the seasonings permeate evenly.
6.Add the coarsely chopped salmon belly to the bowl, folding in gently to distribute.
7.Very gently fold in the tobiko.
8.Mound attractively into serving dishes. Top with ikura and a sprinkle of either shichimi togarashi (if you like things spicy) or toasted black sesame seeds.

Note: If serving with rice, top bowls of piping hot cooked Japanese rice with some finely shredded daikon before piling on the chopped salmon belly mixture. Serve with wasabi and more soy sauce on the side.


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