I was wondering this weekend what to cook for a blog post. We normally trot off to a farmers market, get something special, and I work a decent(ish) dish out of it for a nice, lovely blog post. This weekend I was stumped. I normally muse over things a bit through the week, so that I have an idea of what I want to do at the weekend. I didn’t this week. Work has been crazy, and I haven’t thought about much else.
Things however got fixed by a visit to Boom Noodle on Saturday. We have been here a bunch of times before, but never really delved into their small plates. Boom, is a great little Japanese restaurant in Capitol Hill, here in Seattle. They do decent noodle dishes, at a great price – and Drake can make a ton of noise there, and no one gets pissed. Bloody perfect!
We weren’t that hungry, so decided to order a few small dishes, and pick away. This also seems to work great when you are feeding a toddler too. If there is something he doesn’t like, no biggie, you have ordered two or three other things, so you have way more chance of getting food into them
They had a great little rice dish that we tried, and absolutely loved. It was these small rice cakes, topped with caramelized miso paste, with some great little sesame vegetables on top. I just had to have a crack at this bad boy at home. I really didn’t have much of an idea what went into it – but the menu was pretty self explanatory.. right?
It had also been a while since I had cooked any salmon, so I wanted to do a version of this dish using salmon too. I absolutely love crispy salmon skin, and thought this might well make a decent textural opposite to the soft fish and vegetables.. turns out, it did! yay.
I also got a new pet-peeve today. Something that really really pissed me off. It was a fishmonger at Whole Foods. I am using the term “fishmonger” in the loosest of all possible meanings. I am not sure how much this bloke knew about fish – I do know however he knew a thing or two about rubbing me up the wrong way….
So, I was in WholeFoods looking for some salmon. Not my favorite place to buy seafood, but the salmon looked pretty decent. They had a sockeye, a king, and a coho. So, asking the bloke what was a great salmon at the moment, the git suggested the $28/lb king salmon – the most expensive fish there. That is low class to begin with. When I told him there was no way I was spending nearly 30bucks a pound on some fish, he suggested the $27/lb sockeye. What an arse.
It carries on.. I tell him I will go with the coho – half the price. He then tries to tell me that if only want a small amount, the king would be a decent deal. No mate it wouldn’t… the price per lb is the price per lb.. He decided to try and convince me that buying the most expensive fish in the store would be a good idea. If I didn’t need fish for the meal that night, and had no other options in Bellevue, I would have told the bloke to stick it and walked out.
Anyhow, so I got the coho.. not my first choice, but I wasn’t going to spend a small fortune on fish for this dish.
Righto, rant over. This was a great tasty little dish, er, both of em actually! The rice cakes were little stars – the caramelized miso just went so perfectly with it.
Caramelized Miso Rice cakes, crsipy skin salmon, sesame julienne vegetables
1/2lb short grain sushi rice
2 teaspoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1/4 red cabbage
2 stalks of celery
2 tablespoons dried hiziki seaweed
toasted (dark) sesame oil
1 Japanese eggplant (optional)
1/2lb salmon, skin on
Start by making the rice cakes. Cook the rice according to package directions. This is normally simmering for 20minutes in 2x water, then letting sit for 10 minutes. When it is cooked, pour in the seasoned rice wine vinegar, and gently fluff with a fork. Try not to break up the rice. Turn this out onto a plate to cool.
When completely cool get a really small cup. I find a sake cup works great for this. Spoon some of the rice into the cup, and gently pack it down. Lay out a small square (6″x 6″) of plastic wrap. Turn the cup upside-down into the center of the wrap. Tap, and gently shake the cup to get the rice out of it. Done right, this should come out as a great little formed mound. Wrap the plastic wrap up, over, and around the rice cake. Gently does it! Repeat until you are all out of rice. Put these into the fridge to completely cool. The plastic wrap should help these little darlings stop drying out.
These will keep overnight in the fridge easily (they did for me..), so make em the night before if you can.
When you come to make the dish, unwrap the rice cakes, and place in a baking pan. Best to use a low sided pan here, it is far easier to get them out later.
In a small bowl mix up the miso paste and 1 tablespoon of water. Using a pastry brush, brush the top side of each cake with a little of the miso.
Now lets do the vegetables. For these you are going to need a julienne slicer. If you don’t have one, you are going to need some serious knife skills, and a lot of time on your hands!
Slice up all the vegetables using the slicer. The leeks and cabbage will be some work – since they tend to fall into their individual rounds . If this happens, try and push the individual pieces onto the slicer. Watch your bloody fingers! These too could be sliced the night before, and tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, and kept in the fridge till required.
Get a bowl of warm water. Put the seaweed in the hot water, for about 10 minutes. Drain through a strainer. If the seaweed is large, coarsely chop.
For the fish, start by taking the skin off. If you are uncomfortable doing this, get your fishmonger to do it. You need both the skin and flesh for this recipe. Cut the flesh into equal sized pieces. If you have any slim pieces from the belly flap, cut them off – they will just burn. Eat them straight off if you like salmon sashimi. Cut 3″ squares out of the fish skin.
Brush the skin side (or what would have been the skin side) of the salmon with a little oil, and put them on a baking sheet, oiled side up.
Get your oven broiler hot. First put the rice cakes under. Broil until the miso has nicely caramelized, and a few black spots. Put these right in the bottom of the oven to keep warm (if your broiler is in the oven).
Get a well seasoned wok hot over a high heat. Add a splash of sesame oil, and add in the fish skin. Let these fry in the oil until nicely browned. You will want them to flip once. When crisp and brown, remove from the pan and let drain on some paper towel.
Add the vegetables (not the seaweed) to the wok, and saute for a few seconds, until just limp. Tip out into a bowl. Add a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Add in the seaweed, and toss. Taste. If you cannot taste the sesame oil, add a little more.
Put the fish squares under the broiler. These are literally only going to take a minute. I like them here when you have a degree of doneness through the flesh. The oil side will be completely cooked, but the flesh side should still be pretty much raw. Cook them all the way through if you wish.
To plate the fish. Put three cubes of fish on a plate. Between the cubes put the crispy skin, vertically – as in pictures. Top each piece of fish with a little of the vegetables.
To plate the rice cakes put three rice cakes on a plate. Top with the vegetables.