Monday, November 03, 2008

The best and easiest party salmon - hot, cold or room temp

The very excellent cooking store and school Cooks of Crocus Hill has wonderful tools and terrific classes. In a participation class several years ago, I learned a fast, foolproof technique for roasting salmon which proves itself every time, and no matter how many pounds of salmon I serve -- there are NEVER leftovers. Because it can be served hot, cold or room temperature, it is a great item for a buffet or potluck or for any occasion that might otherwise be a train-wreck in the oven or in the kitchen at dinner time.

This is a single-skill recipe calling only for your chopping skills. It takes one visit to a kindly fishmonger who will take out the salmon's pin bones, and one trip to a well-stocked Asian food isle for dried fermented black beans. I prefer the kind that are dried with ginger bits, but I never overlook an opportunity to add ginger to anything.

This is infinitely expandable -- two pounds, five pounds, ten pounds of salmon. How many folks do you need to feed? The original recipe called for 2-1/2 pounds of salmon to feed 10 people as part of a very elaborate appetizer buffet. I have seen 30 people demolish 10 pounds of this dish as part of a large buffet dinner.

Use a very heavy duty sheet pan -- weapons grade from the restaurant supply house -- not the flimsy one from the grocery store, and line it with parchment paper. No sticking and easy cleanup.

Roasted Salmon with Black Beans, Ginger and Scallions (adapted from Cooks of Crocus Hill)
Affectionately AKA: "Slab 'O Salmon"

2-1/2 pounds of salmon
4 T dried, fermented black beans (with ginger, optional), minced
1 bunch of fresh scallions, white and green parts julienned
8 oz. fresh ginger, peeled if not young, julienned
4 oz. soy sauce
3 T plus 2 oz. Mirin (rice wine vinegar would work in a pinch)
2T sesame oil
4 T sake (Sherry is an ok substitute)
2 T sugar
1 - 2 tsp hot chili oil (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place the salmon on the parchment-lined sheet pan. Do not let it hang over the edge.
3. Cut 1/2-inch slashes every 3 inches all the way down the length of the fish.
4. Rub the minced black beans into the slashes and on the top of the fish.
5. Roast the fish for 5 minutes.
6. Remove the fish and brush with two tablespoons of the Mirin.
7. Roast until the salmon is cooked through. This will depend on your oven's true temp and the thickness of the piece of fish that you buy. Checking is a worthwhile activity.

1. Heat a large saute pan over high heat. Add the sesame oil and swirl it until it heats through. You will know when it is hot when you can smell it.
2. Remove the pan from the heat, add the scallions and ginger and the remaining ingredients (2 ounces Mirin, 4 tablespoons of sake, 2 tablespoons sugar and the optional chili oil). Keep warm in the pan.
3. When the salmon is done, remove it from the oven and pour the sauce over the fish.

SERVE: Hot, cold or room temperature. No leftovers. Ever.

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