Girl meets grill


Technically, the boy met the actual grill – rocked the grill, really. Twice. Saturday, wild Alaskan salmon. Sunday, skirt steak. Here’s how it all went down on Saturday….

Saturday’s Menu for 6
Fresh tomato salsa with chips
Frenchie radishes
Asian grilled salmon
Soba noodle salad
Red iceberg salad with Asian vinaigrette
Grilled NJ asparagus

Fresh Tomato Salsa

6 ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup finely diced red onion, soaked in ice water for 10 minutes to remove some of the bite
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Zest of 1 lime, plus juice of 1/2 lime
1 Tablespoon good olive oil
1 small clove garlic, smashed to a paste with a little salt and the edge of a chef’s knife
1 or 2 good pinches of salt
Pepper to taste

Halve the tomatoes crosswise. Scoop out and discard the seeds and juice, then dice the tomatoes. In a medium bowl, make a little dressing out of the lime zest and juice, olive oil and garlic paste. Add the diced tomatoes, onion and cilantro, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss gently to combine. Over time, the salt makes the tomatoes give up a lot of juice, so you may want to pour out some of the accumulated liquid before serving. Serve with good corn chips.

Frenchie Radishes

French people know how to eat their radishes; and on Saturday we did a casual American take on their fancypants genius. I sliced the radishes in half lengthwise (ideally you would do this with the greens attached, but I waited too long and had to toss our greens) and put them on a plate with a little ramekin of sea salt and a little ramekin of butter. It’s worth getting Plugra or another cultured European-style butter for this (and, frankly, for everything; and yes, I know that if it had an “s” on it, “plugra” would mean “more fat” in French, and yes, it’s still worth it). Have people spread a little bit of butter on a radish half, sprinkle a little salt on it, and dive in. If you want to be more authentic, I think the French usually serve baguette with this and put the butter on the bread, and maybe even thinly slice the radishes on top. We opted for a direct delivery system over authenticity, with pretty tasty results.

Asian Grilled Salmon

Note: I doubled this for 6 people.

1 whole fillet wild Alaskan salmon, skin on (probably about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds). Have the fishmonger remove the bones but leave the fillet whole for grilling.*
Zest of 1 lime, plus juice of 1/2 lime
2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced or grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 dashes fish sauce

Sliced scallions and chopped cilantro for garnishPrepare or preheat the grill for medium-high heat. Combine the lime zest and juice, hoisin, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and fish sauce in a small bowl. Spread the mixture onto the salmon. Brush some oil onto the grill grates, then place the salmon skin-side down on the grill. Grill until just, or almost, cooked through, probably about 5-6 minutes, without flipping. Remove to a platter, sprinkle with scallions and cilantro, and serve.

* Despite appearances, and news reports, and prices, now is apparently the time to buy wild Alaskan salmon. There has been an awful lot of talk recently about the depletion of the wild salmon populations in the American part of the Pacific, which I think has scared a lot of conscientious people off salmon this year; and at the very beginning of the season, Alaskan salmon was selling for $40/pound because of low supply, which is legitimately scary. However, and I say this with a huge smile on my face, because wild Alaskan salmon is so darn good and good for you – I gave the third degree to a very knowledgeable guy at the Whole Foods fish counter this weekend about all of this, including why the very same salmon could now be selling for $20/pound (still not cheap, but not quite so obscene), and he swore to the following:- The wild Alaskan salmon population is extremely vibrant. Apparently every Alaskan fishery would qualify to be MSC certified, but most don’t do it simply because of the expense.

- The reason for the price plummet is that we are now well into the season, and the supply has increased dramatically. As we get closer to the end of the season, prices will go back up, so now is a good time to buy!

Soba Noodle Salad

For the salad
12 oz. soba noodles (I usually like the thickest, shortest ones I can find)
1 cup shredded red cabbage*
1 cup shredded carrots*
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro

For the dressing

I am a huge fan of Ellie Krieger’s recipe for Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce. (Scroll down past the satay recipe for the sauce.) To make it into a dressing for the noodles, you’ll need to thin it down some, so use equal parts peanut butter to chicken stock, or even a little more chicken stock, rather than the 2:1 she suggests for a dipping sauce. I left out the chili flakes since we have a preschooler, and she totally ate this stuff up.

Prepare soba according to package directions. Do not skip or take lightly the step where it tells you to rinse them off – soba is no ordinary noodle in this regard. You can do this step in advance and toss the noodles with a little bit of a neutral oil and store them, tightly covered or in a plastic bag, in the fridge until just before serving.

Just before serving, put the noodles into a large bowl and toss with as much of the dressing as you like. (If you have made the dressing ahead of time and refrigerated it, take it out to let it come to room temperature before tossing.) Then toss in the cabbage, carrots, scallion and cilantro and serve.

* I cheated and bought these pre-done at Whole Foods, perhaps to compensate for the amount of greens washing and horseradish preparing I expect to do this summer. Let me tell you, it was worth every millennium those plastic containers are going to take to decompose. Try to avoid buying the non-organic bagged stuff, though. There are reasons it stays “good” for months, and those reasons do not have a positive impact on taste and nutritional profile.

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