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.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

A Mad Tea Party

Here, some pictures of a dessert bar I had put together last week for a friend, the lovely and super stylish Chin, also known as the tastemaker behind Asiatique, the gorgeous emporium of delightful covetables located in the heart of Dempsey. If you reside in Singapore or are planning a visit, but have yet to discover this absolute gem of a shop at 14A Dempsey Road (T: +65 64713146), you really must, soonest. Be warned: You may very well find yourself wringing hands over logistics to heft some beautifully designed and crafted armoire or bureau or compound cabinet or some other such decor statement-making like back home, freight charges be damned. Some of our most cherished pieces of furniture, collected over the years, were truffled from here, a sanctuary for the sanctuary.
The theme for the dessert bar? Lewis Carroll's mad tea party from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, of course. The occasion? A very special trunk show held at Asiatique showcasing their fabulous and exclusive lineup of independent jewellery and accessory brands, with all the designers in attendance mingling with guests and sharing about the inspiration behind and provenance of their sublime wares.
As you can imagine, I had an absolute ball coming up with the menu and being part of this wonderful event. Thank you, C!