Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Salmon a la Johnson


Introduction

This is a recipe for grilled salmon. This salmon is known for its extreme wooing powers. Ladies can't handle this fish. They dig it so much it is crazy. They go crazy. This recipe is tthe result of YEARS of work by my father, Brian D. Johnson (AKA the Silver Fox). It is his "one dish" and it is, apparently, all he needs.

Let us get down to business.

This is a grilled salmon. Grilled with y TONS and TONS of fresh ginger and some other things. Here's the scoop.

First. Go to the fish store (I recommend Waldman's on Roy). Find the freshest most gleaming beautiful fillet of Salmon. Fillet! This will cost you money, but it will be worth it. After all this is not a regular meal. It is a meal of mythical proportions. So, buy the best most healthy, most agile and vibrant piece of salmon you can find. I also recommend getting a nice big piece. Do not be stingy!

Second. Think about what you are going to do with this fish. You are going to grill it. This is best done on a BBQ of the charcoal variety. This will require a BBQ, coals, a way to light the coals, an implement to fan the flames, a big spatula and lots of will power, because BBQing takes time and engery.

Third. Think about what you are going to put on the fish. Find a piece of ginger about as big as your two hands or your head, or something in that ball park. The fresher the better. Do not even try to cook this fish dish this way without a serious source of good fresh ginger. Do not use old dry crappy ginger. In addition to the ginger you will be adding a number of saucy things to flavour the fish. This will be covered in a moment.

Fourth. Think about the setting. What will be on the place with the salmon. You do not want it to be lonely on the plate. Nice rice. . . . veggies. .. asparagus. .. . rapinni. . . sweet potatoes . . . any of these do well. Soba noodles with some kind of sauce . . .woudl also be a good choice. Booze also goes well with this meal. It is best to get a bit drunk while cooking so that when you eat it you are ready to party.

Fifth . . . the recipe.

Materials

- two big pieces of fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup or less or more of Tamari soy sauce or whatever
- 1/3 cup real maple syrup (medium colour is good for this and cheaper, but any will do, but NO AUNT JEMIMMA)
- one lime's juice
- big piece of salmon fillet
- olive oil for coating fish

Methodololgy

Prepare your BBQ. This is key. You need good steady heat. that will not burn, but will cook your fish. The key to this is BBQ set up. The best is a deep old style charcoal BBQ with room for lots of coals and a good distance between the coals and the grill. Use pure hardwood charcoal i if you can find it. This allows for heat, but not burning. A nice big bed of hot coals is key. So. . . start your charcoal however you do. I recommend starting a little fire with paper and wood under your coals and being all natural about it. This helps you get into the caveman/cavewoman mind state ideal for cooking the fish. Take care of the little fire, make sure it catches the coals. . . TEND to the fire as you will soon tend to your fish. Be gentle and patient, observant and committed. Proceed with care and watch your fire grow. Care and attention to the ways of the fire will lead to prosperity.

(Side note.) On a recent visit my mother, Marni Jackson, described the appeal of the cowboy. When she was in her younger traveling days. . .she spent some time on a dude ranch with real cowboys. It was not the bull-wrangling, lasooing or gunplay that she found most attractive.She said that the great thing about cowboys is that they are "sensitive with animals - they know how to treat animals". You must attend to your fire and your fish as a cowboy would attend to their horse - with care

As the fire catches the coals you can blow on the coals with well directed steady breaths and/or use a large flat implement such as a baking pan to fan the flames (as would would do in the heat of a social revolt). Once you have achieved fire life off, make sure all of your coals get nice and toasty. This may require making a tall pile of coals (heat rises), were you throw the unlit coals on top of the lit ones. Once they are all hot and burning slowly you can spread them out into a nice bed. (As a general rule, use more than you think you will need).

While your coals are getting hot you can prepare the fish and the ginger. Take your fish out and give it a rinse in cold water and dry off with paper towel. Coat the fish in olive oil with your hands and put it skin down on a plate (for preparation).

Get the biggest sharpest knife you have. Sharpen it if you can. Put it beside a cutting board. Peel most of the skin off the ginger using a peeler and/or a small knife. Now take your peeled ginger and, using the big sharp knife, cut it up as small as you can manage (within reason). What you want is a nice big pile of minced ginger. Put this in a bowl. And add your sauces (soy sauce, maple syrup, lime juice). Mix it around and modify to taste. Something spicy can be added if you want, but this should do the trick. This sauce can be modified depending on your taste and approach. The goal is to have salty, sweet, gooey, slightly citrus ginger muck. This mixture will be applied on top of the fish in a thick coat. The maple syrup gives it a sticky quality needed to keep it on the fish. This should be a good thick layer. This is the "je ne sais quoi" of the Johnson salmon.

Cooking! When your fire is hot but not out of hand put the salmon on the grill (skin down, ginger up). Timing is key. This is where the caveman/cavewoman attention to fire pays off. The best is to let the coals get really hot and catch them as they are on cooling off side of things. You may want to grill some other stuff to test the heat. When you think the moment is ready to strike. .. throw that fish on the barbee. Watch closely to assure that burning does not occur. If it does take some actions to stop it. If your fire is too hot, you can try putting some tin foil under the fish or waiting a bit. If your fire is too cool. .. .. . go back to the beginning of the fire starting instruction and get your fire up to speed.

Cook the fish for a little while. What is this? It depends on the heat of the grill. .. .the size of fish. . .the geometry of the cosmos. The basic rule of thumb is to take a good close look BEFORE you think if could possibly be close to being done. Done with fresh good fish is not very cooked. Done is hot, and slightly flaking apart. Whatever you do, do not PLESE overcook the fish. Also, it is best to just feel if the fish is done and don't do too much hacking into it. A flashlight may help if it is dark.

Here is the unexpected plot twist, that makes the Johnson salmon a wiley dish. You are going to take that fish off the grill BEFORE it is done, and you are going to run that puppy under the broiler of your oven. So. . . take it off the grill (maybe using two spatulas and a helper holding an oiled baking pan or dish). Bring your fish to the broiler and watch it broil with eyes like a hawk. You want to caramalize the sugar and the ginger. .. . giving a crispy brown top to your perfectly cooked. The key is to get your heats and timings right. When in doubt . .. . cook less and hotter, but do not burn.

At this point, you will have somehow assured that all other parts of your meal are magically ready and ready to march onto the plate. Before you serve it, make sure it is cooked in the thickest part, but not overcooked on the side. More broiling or grilling is very acceptable for last minute corrections to undercookedness.

Et Voila! You are a caveman/cavewoman at the top of your game. The good thing about this recipe is that you can mess around with more or less or this or that . . . it is flexible. . . as long as you follow the general principles.

Enjoy!

Dr. Rocker

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

scurvy free is the way to be!

just can't seem to incorporate enough sweetened condensed milk into your diet? feel like you've been missing out on the essential nutrients and vitamins hidden in that innocuous looking can of mt. everest sized caloric intake? well cry alone in your room no more.

key lime pie! fast, easy and gloriously fattening.


begin with the crust: graham crackers (1/3 of a box, or if you shop at p.a., they sell pre-crushed graham crackers to help us all cope with this hectic modern life, use about 1 cup), combine in a bowl with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup unsalted melted butter. press into a lightly greased pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

le filling: zest some limes, i would say like 2, and then juice a whole bunch more, until you have about 2/3 cup of lime juice. combine this with 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, and mix with a whisk for like 5 minutes.

technically because there are no eggs in this pie, you don't even have to cook it. but i haven't tried this yet, so do so at your own risk. otherwise for you squares and recipe-followers out there, pour into the crust and cook for about 10 minutes or until it seems gelatinous. refrigerate and serve cold (duh). mmmm

Monday, May 12, 2008

c is also for chocolate.

so madeleine's friend, carin (!!), arrived for a long montreal visit from sweden, and madeleine hosted a potluck of guts and glory (theme: aphrodisiacs). money teph and i concocted somewhat of a chocolately, nutty extravaganza - and here is the recipe for all you lovers.

we borrowed from Chocolate&Zucchini's recipe for chocolate cake with candied hazelnuts, but with a few modifications. we added many more nuts, and instead of just hazelnuts, we made a little mix of hazelnuts and pistachios. also, as we all know - using good chocolate is the key to delicious chocolate cakes, as well as all things related to love-making. so instead of bittersweet baker's chocolate, we used a nice hunk of 55% callebaut.

you need:
200g (7oz) 55% callebaut (or bittersweet bakers. or whatever floats your lover's boat)
1 stick unsalted buttah
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 eggs
1 cup sugar (the original recipe called for more, but because we wanted to preserve the taste of the DELICIOUS chocolate, we used 1/4 cup less. you can adjust as necessary)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
confectioner's sugar for dusting (optional. we forgot. but feel that it might be great...)

approx 1 cup of hazelnuts and pistachios combined
1/3 cup sugar

here's what you do:
first, gather combined hazelnuts and pistachios. in a food processor, chop em up (only a couple of pulses). save the flour-like nutty bits at the bottom to later add to the cake batter - this is key. toast the bit chunks in a non-stick skillet over high heat, and then set aside. in the same skillet over medium-high heat, add 1/3 cup of sugar with a splash of water, and let simmer until it forms a golden syrup. then add the toasted nuts, stir around to coat fully, and remove. place the candied nuts on parchment paper to cool.

next, preheat that oven (whooooo spring break!) to 360F. heavily butter a reasonably sized square baking pan a la brownies.

then, get your double boiler on! break up the chocolate (sob) and butter, place in a heat-proof glass bowl over a pot of nearly simmering water, and stir occasionally until melted, combined, and sensuous. once totally melted, whisk in the cocoa powder and set aside to cool off a bit.

the original recipe called for blending the batter in a food processor, but instead we used our giant biceps (GIANT, seriously) and whisked by hand. so grab yourselves a big bowl, and whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. add the chocolate/butter mixture. finally, the flour, and the hazelnut/pistachio grounds that you saved earlier (right? RIGHT??! i hope so). mix until just combined, careful not to overmix!

perhaps you should take your top off for the most sensual part of this recipe - slowly pourrrrrrrrrr the batter into the pre-buttered tin. place the candied nuts over top of the rich and moist batter, until the surface is totally covered. bake for about 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted at the centre comes out clean.

let cool in the pan for a little while, then cut squares out of the pan to serve.

finally, make love.

ta-da!