Sesame-Crusted Salmon with Lime and Coriander

May 28, 2014

I enjoy fish (but more importantly my girlfriend absolutely loves it), so was happy when this recipe yielded a complete success. The recipe was a refreshingly new way to cook salmon, and didn’t simply rely on sauce to make it interesting. Chris Kimball’s gives a quick 15-minute brine to season the fish and ensure that it doesn’t dry out during cooking. But the recipe succeeds because the ginger, lime and coriander make the flavors much brighter, complimenting the subtle flavors of the sesame seeds and salmon. The tahini is used as “glue” to attached the sesame seeds to the fish. 4-1/2 stars.

Salmon was flavorful and perfectly cooked

Salmon was flavorful and perfectly cooked

Comments:

  1. I made my own homemade Tahini with the leftover sesame seeds. I toasted 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds in a dry skilled, the ground them in a spice grinder with a little olive oil.
  2. Chris Kimball has two other variations; Sesame-Crusted Salmon with Lemon and Ginger and an Orange and Chili Powder version.

Rating: 4-1/2 star.
Cost: $17.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 5 PM. Dinner time 6 PM.

Here is the original Cook’s Illustrated link to for this recipe. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today is as follows:

Table Salt
3/4 cup sesame seeds (3-1/2 oz)
4 skinless salmon fillets  (2-lbs total)
2 scallions
4 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 2 teaspoons juice (2 limes)
4 teaspoons tahini
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

  1. Set an rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat to 325-degrees.
  2. Fill a bowl with 2 quarts of water and dissolve 5 tablespoons of salt. Remove 1 cup of the brine and add sesame seeds; allow to sit for 5 minutes at room temperature. Put fillets into brine and allow to sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the green parts thin and set aside. Mince white parts of scallion and zest two limes using a Use a micoplaner. Put scallion whites and lime zest on cutting board and chop until finely minced and completely combined.  Add teaspoons lime juice, 4 teaspoons tahini, and 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, 1/4 teaspoon coriander, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir to form a paste and set aside until step 6.
  4. Drain the sesame seeds and put into a 12″ non-stick skillet. Toast seeds over medium burner for 2 to 4 minutes; until the become golden brown. Empty toasted seeds onto a pie plate, and use paper towels to wipe out skillet.
  5. Remove fish from brine and pat dry using paper towels. If your fish has a thin belly flap, gently fold the flap over which will create an even thickness. Evenly spread half the paste over the skinned-side of the salmon. Gently press the pasted-side into the sesame seeds and move to a place with the seeded-side-down. Evenly spread half the rest of the paste over the top of the salmon. Coat with the remaining sesame seeds.
  6. Add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in the same non-stick skillet. Preheat until the oil is shimmering. Put fillets into skillet (with skilled-side up). Turn down burner to medium-low. Cook for 2 minutes until the seeds begin to brown. Remove the skillet from the burner.
  7. Use two spatulas to carefully flip the fish and move skillet to oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the center registers 125-degrees. Move to serving platter and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with sliced scallion greens and serve.

 

Enjoying seafood (not this recipe) with my girlfriend

Enjoying seafood (not this recipe) with my girlfriend


Pulled Pork Sandwiches

May 16, 2014

I’ve made most of Chris Kimball’s Pulled Pork recipes (see here, here, here and here). But today I was faced with a unique set of circumstances, so I took bits and pieces of his various recipes. First, I only had a 3-lb boneless butt roast. Ideally I should have had a 5-to-7-lb bone in roast. Second, I didn’t want a lot of leftovers. Primary this was just going to be a meal for me and my two sons; but just food for today. Lastly, I had to make if from start to finish in 7 hours. Most recipes require a long brine or require the dry rub to soak overnight. The results were good, 4-stars, but fell short of a full-sized, bone-in roast. The sauce was a kid-friendly BBQ style, rather than a more vinegary sauce.

Delicious, but takes a lot of time

Delicious, but takes a lot of time

Taking advantage of a weekday in which I was working from home, I had 7 hours

Comments:

  1. I am fortunate to have infinite free hardwood chunks. Today I used wood from my Oak tree, but I also have lots of Maple wood.
  2. In the past I’ve cut the roast horizontally to speed the cooking, but I had enough time to do a slow roast today.

Rating: 4 star.
Cost: $12.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 12 Noon. Dinner time 7 PM.

Here is the original Cook’s Illustrated link to for this recipe. The recipe for the sauce is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today is as follows:

Spicy Chili Rub Ingredients:
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 teaspoons chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2-1/2 tablespoons paprika
4 teaspoons table salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground white pepper

Pork:
1 boneless pork butt roast, 3-1/2 pounds

  1. Combine all spices in a small bowl and stir to combine. Trim away any large chunks of fat, then evenly spread the spice rub into the roast. Use two layers of plastic wrap to tightly wrap, put on a plate. Today I only allowed 1 hour, until the dry rub becomes wet from the pork juices. but longer is betters. But if you have the time refrigerating overnight is better.
  2. Remove roast from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. Soak four 3″ wood chunks in tap water, using a plate to ensure that the wood stays below the surface of the water.
  3. About 15 minutes before cooking, light a chimney starter half-filled with briquettes
  4. When the charcoal is ready, spread 15 unlit briquettes on one side of the grill. Even spread the lit charcoal ontop of the unlit coals, leaving half the grill completely empty. Put the soaked wood chunks ontop of charcoal, and replace the cooking grate. Open the bottom vents completely and the top vents half-way.
  5. Put the roast in a disposable aluminum pan, and put it on the cool side of the grill. Cover so that the vents are over the meat, which will draw the smoke to better flavor the meat. After two hours, the grill will fall below 275-degrees, so it’s time to move it indoors.
  6. About 15 minutes before the meat is ready to come off the grill, set a rack to the middle of your oven. Preheat to 335-degrees.
  7. Cover the disposable pan tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil and bake for 2 more hours; until the meat is “fork-tender”.
  8. Put the entire pan in a brown paper bag and fold it shut. Let the roast rest for an hour inside the bag, but after 15 minutes begin making the sauce below.
  9. Empty the meat onto a cutting board and use your hands to separate into large sections along the lines of the fat. Scrape away any excess fat. Use your fingers (or forks) to thinly shred and put meat into a large bowl. Add 3/4 cup of BBQ sauce and stir to combine. Serve of buns or bread as sandwiches.

Western South Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe:
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon dry mustard
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup ketchup

  1. After 15 minutes of the pork resting in the paper bag (step 8 above), slightly peel back one corner of the foil and empty drippings in a fat separator. Re-close foil and return pork to paper bag to continue resting.
  2. Allow juices to separate for 5 minutes, then empty the juices into a 2-qt saucepan.  Bring to boil. Simmer pot with the lid ajar to reduce for 30 minutes. Pour reduced sauce into large bowl (bowl will also be used in step 9 above).
  3. Mince the onion and peel the garlic. Put saucepan over a medium burner and pre-heat oil  until shimmering. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Press garlic directly into the pan and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the reduced drippings and all the remaining ingredients (except for the ketchup). Stir to combine, bring up to a boil.
  5. Reduce burner to low and add ketchup. Cook for 15 more minutes until the sauce has thickened.
2-1/4 pounds of pulled pork

2-1/4 pounds of pulled pork


Chinese Braised Beef

May 4, 2014

I was really in the mood for some great Chinese food, and was excited to try cooking with a new cut of meat; beef shanks. The beef shanks take between 4 to 5 hours to become tender, but have great flavor and texture. If you’d rather use other cuts of beef, Chris Kimball describes how to preparing the recipe boneless ribs, and even a chuck roast (see comments below). One advantage of using the beef shanks is that you don’t need as much gelatin to obtain the correct consistency for the sauce. Overall, the beef tasted good, and the texture was amazingly tender. But the end results lacked a strong Chinese flavor; more hints of Chinese spices. 4-stars.

Tender meat, but lacks Chinese flavor

Tender meat, but lacks Chinese flavor

Because I ran out of heavy-duty aluminum foil in Step 3, I substituted regular aluminum foil. Unfortunately, the regular foil made a big difference in the evaporation (perhaps wouldn’t have been an issue with the 4 hours ribs/chuck). Because I was left with just about 1 cup of broth after defatting, I did not have to reduce for 20 minutes in Step 4. I did run a little low on sauce so leftovers were a little dry.

The recipe allows for variations using many types of beef, but require a few changes in the amount of gelatin used, and cooking time.

  1. I used cross-cut beef shanks, which have less connective tissue than long-cut beef shanks. Use 2-1/4 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin in Step 1. They cook in 4 hours.
  2. If you can find whole beef shanks, omit the gelatin altogether and allow them to cook for 5 hours.
  3. The base recipe calls for 3-lbs of boneless beef short ribs. Which you should trim and cut into 4″ lengths. Ribs require using 1-1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
  4. You can also use a 4-lb chuck roast. Trim away any fat and sinew, then cut across the grain into 1″-thick slabs. Finally cut slabs into final 4″x2″ pieces.

Rating: 4-star.
Cost: $17.
How much work? Medium
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 1:00pm. Dinner time 6:00pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below:

1-1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
3 scallions
2″ piece ginger
4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 pounds beef short ribs
1 teaspoon cornstarch

  1. Add 2-1/2 cups water to Dutch oven. Sprinkle gelatin over water and allow gelatin to soften for 5 minutes. Set a rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat oven to 300-degrees. Prepare the scallions by separating the white and green parts. Slice the green parts thinly on a bias, and smash the white part. Peeled the ginger, cut in half lengthwise, and crushed. Peel the garlic and smash.
  2. Set Dutch oven over medium-high burner and heat for 2 to 3 minutes until the gelatin has melted. Add sherry, soy sauce, hoisin, molasses, scallion whites, ginger, garlic, five-spice powder, and pepper flakes. Then add beef, stir, and bring up to simmer.
  3. Remove Dutch oven from heat. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil, then top with the lid. Put in pre-heated oven and cook until beef becomes tender; between 2 and 5 hours (see note depending upon cut of beef). Stir halfway through cooking time.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to remove beef to a cutting board. Strain sauce through fine-mesh strainer into a fat separator. Use paper towels to wipe out Dutch oven. Allow liquid to settle for 5 minutes, then return defatted juices to now-empty pot. Reduce liquid over medium-high burner, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1 cup; 20 to 25 minutes; stirring constantly.
  5. Meanwhile while the sauce reduces, break beef into 1 1/2-inch pieces using two forks. In a small bowl, add cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water and whisk until combined.
  6. Turn down burner to medium-low, re-whisk cornstarch, add into pot and cook for 1 minutes. Add beef back to pot, stir to cover beef. Cover and allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is hot. Serve sprinkled with scallion greens.

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