Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lemony Spinach Soup with Chicken and Barley

Last week I was gifted with a large bag of baby spinach, already cleaned and prepped and looking for a recipe. I had just made spanakopita so that was out. There's only so much spinach salad one person can eat, so that wasn't going to do it. And San Diego was about to get hit with another storm so a cold salad didn't appeal to me anyway.

But soup did.

I already had the remains (meaning the breast meat) of a rotisserie chicken I had bought at Costco. (Existential question: Does anyone really enjoy a market rotisserie chicken beyond the convenience factor?) I had feta cheese and a just wrinkling jalapeño pepper I needed to use, a huge head of garlic, a quart of vegetable stock and an onion, fresh herbs and Meyer lemons in my garden, and purple prairie barley in the pantry. As I scoured my kitchen and garden I figured I had the makings of a big pot of soup.

Now you can, of course, add other vegetables to this. Mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, or winter squash would all be nice. You could leave out the chicken for a vegetarian soup or add sausage or other proteins to make it even more hearty. Couscous or rice would work instead of barley. It's all up to you. But what you really want to keep in--besides the spinach, of course--is the lemon juice. It's the magical ingredient that makes this soup special. It turns a very nice conventional soup into something bright and interesting. And makes it the perfect go-to for a chilly cloudy weekend. In fact, my mom has already made a batch for herself and gave some containers to friends.

Lemony Spinach Soup with Chicken and Barley
Serves 4 to 6
(printable recipe)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 pound baby spinach, thoroughly washed, dried, and chopped
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups water
Juice of 1 lemon
8 ounces shredded chicken or other protein (optional)
6 ounces barley
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
crumbled feta for garnish

1. Heat a large Dutch oven and add olive oil. Add the garlic and onion. Sauté until golden. Add the pepper and sauté another 30 seconds.

2. Add the spinach in batches, stirring until it cooks down.
3. Add the stock and water, stirring to mix. Then add the chicken and barley. Bring to a boil, then reduced to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 40 minutes or until the barley is tender.
4. Add the herbs and lemon juice. Stir. Let cook another 5 to 10 minutes.
5. Serve with feta.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Joe Magnanelli's Saucisson Sec

It isn't often I walk into a restaurant kitchen and am greeted by a pig face. In fact, what greeted me at Cucina Urbana wasn't just the head but the entire broken down small pig that was the work of executive chef Joe Magnanelli and chef de cuisine of Cucina Enoteca in Newport Beach, Cesar Sarmiento.

Joe had invited me to come in while he made a batch of saucisson sec for his April Beast Feast that features pork. The dinner will feature porchetta, roast loin, bacon, headcheese, a ragu, and other dishes using almost every part of this local 130-pound Guinea Hog.

"The idea is to utilize the whole animal, to respect the animal, and not let anything go to waste," he explained.

Before getting started on the sausage, Joe spent some time working on the side of the pig, trimming one half for a roast loin and bacon. The other was for the porchetta, which he rolled up and put in the walk in.

Then he got to work on the saucisson sec. It takes two months to cure, which is why he started on it in February. But I have his recipe for you below if you'd like to have the fresh, uncured version.

Joe taught himself the techniques for curing sausage, reading books on the subject--yes--but also just learning through trial and error. For saucisson sec, the recipe calls for 20 percent pork fat and 80 percent meat, along with dry white wine, roasted garlic, black pepper, salt--and then the curing ingredients (external bactoferm, pink curing salt, and dextros. The idea is to get the pH to go down and the acidity to increase even as the water in the mixture evaporates. Joe prepares the filling, presses it out into casings, ties them up, and pricks them all around to release the water and air. He keeps a small amount, rolled in plastic wrap as a tester, using measuring equipment to test the pH.

"I want to get it below 4.9," he explained. The sausages then incubate for 24 hours in a CVap Thermalizer--a machine that controls food temperature and humidity. Joe checks them again, looking for a pH measurement below 4.0. He weighs and dates each sausage.

"Eventually you want it to weigh 30 percent less," he said.

Then he moves them into the curing chamber. Covered in a wash of bactoferm 600, the sausages develop an exterior white mold. This is important, Joe explained. "It adds a little bit of flavor, it prevents the casing from getting too dry, and protects the sausages from letting in harmful molds."

The process of making cured and fresh sausages are the same, minus the curing ingredients and curing process. Joe prepped the fat and meat, cutting them into 1-inch pieces before putting them on a tray and into the freezer until they were firm. This is hugely important. The chill keeps the protein from sticking to the grinder blades and smearing. Then he mixed together the fat and meat with the flavor ingredients--minus the wine--and began feeding them into the grinder. While he used a commercial grinder, if you have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, you can use the grinder attachment.
Once the mixture is ground, it's time to blend it and get it to the right texture, using a paddle attachment.

"The texture is the most important," he said. "You want the protein and fat to bond together into an emulsion."

At that point you slowly pour in the wine. Then you can increase the speed a little for a couple of minutes. Once the mixture is sticking to the sides of the bowl, it's ready to be stuffed. Or you can cook the ground mixture to make a crumbled sausage for pizza or pasta.

Joe made me a fresh sausage to take home. His instructions were to place it uncovered on a plate in the refrigerator for a day or so until the case grew firm and tight. Then I put it in a 325-degree oven, and roasted it for 12 minutes on one side, then turned it over and continued roasting it for another 8 minutes.

Once it was cooked, I sliced some pieces and enjoyed them with mustard. The pork was sweet and just salty enough and each bite was filled with a definite flavor of wine and gentle garlic. What's next with it? Joe suggests slicing it and adding the slices to a bowl of lentils or beans. They can flavor soup or a stew. They can top a pizza or flat bread or be chopped into a tomato sauce. Or become part of a sandwich. Just enjoy it.

Joe Magnanelli's Fresh Saucisson Sec
Yield: 2 or 3 large sausages, depending on the size of the casings
(Printable recipe)

4 pounds pork shoulder
1 pound pork fatback
25 grams roasted garlic45 grams salt
7 grams finely ground black pepper
125 milliliters dry white wine
75 milliliters ice water

1. Clean the pork should of any silver skin and sinew and dice with the fatback into 1-inch pieces or what will fit into your grinder top.
2. Place the trimmed, diced meat and fatback on a tray and put in the freezer until the pieces are firm but not frozen.
3. Grind with the roasted garlic into the bowl of your Kitchen Aid.
4. Add the salt and pepper and mix using the paddle attachment on medium speed. While it's whipping, slowly add the white wine and ice water.
5. Whip for about 2 minutes or until the meat starts to have a sticky or tacky texture. When it's ready you can case the pork. If you're not going to case it, don't whip it as long after the wine is added and omit the water.

Note: If you are going to case the sausage, hog casings (scrubbed, salted pig intestines) are the best. You can find them at Sisel's or Iowa Meat Farms or ask a butcher like Heart and Trotter if they carry them. If you are in the market for a stuffer, you can buy a 5-pound sausage stuffer from Northern Tool for about $100. There are lots of videos online that demonstrate sausage stuffing technique.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Spicy Pork and Vegetable Stew

I spent Monday morning with executive chef Joe Magnanelli at Cucina Urbana and the little pig he and Newport Beach's Cucina Enoteca chef de cuisine Cesar Sarmiento broke down in anticipation of April's Pig Beast Feast. Joe taught me how he makes his saucisson sec--and I'll show you how with his recipe for a fresh sausage version next week.

But I left craving pork. So I stopped off at the market before the rain started and picked up the makings of a pork stew. I had just written about Sabor Imports for my Close to the Source blog on Edible San Diego and had bought a jar of their Chintestle (smoked mole) Paste at Specialty Produce. Owner Sara Polczynski had suggested a little teaspoon of it could be added to flavor stews, soups, and sautéed vegetables. So I was interested in trying it out.

So on a chilly blustery day, I put together a spicy pork stew that will last me for several meals. It's a little time consuming at the beginning but once you've prepped all the ingredients, it goes smoothly without your presence and the kitchen smells so warm and comforting. Even better, you wind up with a veggie-filled pot of porkilicious comfort food. It's a little spicy and smoky from the Chintestle but every bite is speaks to the flavors of the vegetables. You could add cut up potatoes to it, but I decided to leave them out and have the option of ladling it over a grain like brown rice or scooping it up with warm corn tortillas.

Spicy Pork and Vegetable Stew
(printable recipe)
Yield: 4 servings

1 ½ pounds pork shoulder (often called butt), cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons ground masa or AP flour
Salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 medium white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored, and diced
1 poblano pepper, charred, peeled, and diced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon smoked mole paste (I use Seasons of my Heart Chintestle paste)
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
1 bunch cilantro, minced
Salt and ground pepper to taste

Place pork in a large bowl. Add masa, salt, and pepper. Using your hands, toss the ingredients to coat the pork pieces.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven. Add just enough of the pork to cover the bottom of the pot, but don’t crowd the pieces. Let brown on one side. When they can easily be turned, brown them on the other and remove to a medium bowl. Add more pork and repeat with remaining pork. It may take three times.

Add the remaining oil to the pot, heat, and then add the garlic and onion. Saute for 2 minutes, then add the peppers. Saute another 2 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen the brown bits. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, tomato paste, and smoked mole paste. Stir well and bring to boil. Reduced heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and simmer for 50 minutes.

Add the peas and ¾ of the cilantro. Simmer uncovered until the peas are tender and the stew sauce thickens—about 5 minutes. Remove and toss the bay leaves. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serve over grains like brown rice or with warm corn tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Savory Citrus Salad

Pity the poor people outside of Southern California this winter. They get snow. We get citrus! And greens! And all sorts of other delicious produce.

I spent some time at Specialty Produce last week and picked up several unusual items.

First there was the real reason I went there: for Blushing Violet Potatoes. Owner Bob Harrington had posted a photo of them on Instagram and I just had to have them. I'd tell you to go rush over to get them but they appear to have been kind of a fluke, mixed in with other tiny potatoes from the Santa Monica Farmers Market. But keep your eyes open for these. They're sweet little potatoes that are cream and purple. Even when you cook them (I roasted several on a bed of course sea salt in my French diable clay pot), they maintain their distinctive colors. You could boil and slice them into a salad for an unusual-looking side dish.

With those in hand, I went into the chilly farmers market walk in fridge and learned about a couple of different and unusual citrus varieties.

One was a Vanilla Blood Orange, sold by Tom King Farms. It has the look of a blood orange but not the acid. So it's got a more bland, sweet--and, yes, slightly vanilla flavor to it. Doesn't sound like something to rush out for? Well, the coral color is lovely and the flavor actually complements the more dramatic flavors you'll find in some citrus, like grapefruit and the other fruit I took home with me, Daisy Tangerines.

Oh, you'll love these tangerines from Polito Farms. They are knock-you-on-the-head fruit in terms of flavor. Very sweet and juicy but also very acidic. They're perfect for snacking and would be wonderful for jamming or baking.

While I was cruising around the walk in, produce wrangler Nathan Bochler decided to introduce me to a couple of other unique items.

One is called yacon. It's a long Peruvian root most often used to make syrup. But if you peel and slice these tubers, you'll find they taste a lot like jicama or water chestnuts. They're fresh and crispy with a sweet, clean flavor. You can add them to a salad or stir fry.

Finally, Nathan produced a Valencia Pride Mango grown in San Diego and near the Salton Sea. Now, they look like conventional mangoes--sort of. They have the right coloring, but they're more elongated. These late-season mangoes also have a very smooth, thin edible skin and gives up a slightly coconut flavor. They also aren't nearly as fibrous as what you're probably used to. What Nathan likes to do is let them go very very soft. So soft that you cut off the tip of the fruit and squeeze to get a mango paste. I tried that but it didn't work for me. So what I did do is slice a large, very soft chunk off and cleaned the pulp from the skin to make a salad dressing.

Yep, a salad dressing. Because I took the citrus and the yacon and created a beautiful winter salad atop mixed greens. I added some sliced red onion, olives, and toasted pecans. Then I created a dressing with the Valencia Pride Mango pulp, lime juice from limes in my garden, really good olive oil, sea salt and red pepper flakes. The dressing was thick and sweet and tart with a little heat to it. Oh, who would have thought you could enjoy something so tropical in January!

Valencia Pride Mango Dressing
(printable recipe)
Yield: About 1 cup

1/2 to 3/4 cup of very soft Valencia Pride Mango pulp
Juice from 1 and 1/2 limes
Large pinch of high-quality sea salt
Large pinch of red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive oil

Using a whisk stir together the mango pulp, lime juice, sea salt, and red pepper flakes. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until you get the texture you want. Depending on the texture of the mango you may need more lime juice or more olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Local Cookbook Author Carolynn Carreño Appearing at Next Good Earth Great Chefs Event

Photo by Adriene Hughes
San Diego magazine writer and cookbook author Carolynn Carreño will be the featured chef at the first 2017 Good Earth/Great Chefs event. On Sunday, January 29 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Carreño will sign her newest book, Bowls of Plenty: Recipes for Healthy and Delicious Whole Grain Meals. The event, held at Chino Farm, will feature complementary tastes of a bowl recipe made from vegetables picked that morning at the farm. And there will be live music to enjoy as well. Those who buy her book at the event can have her sign it.

I'll be writing a piece on Carreño and her book for the San Diego Union-Tribune's food section for publication next month, but I'm a fan of the Good Earth/Great Chefs series and encourage you to attend the free event and enjoy some time on the farm.

If you're a cookbook lover, Carreño may also be a familiar name to you. She is a James Beard Award-winning journalist and has co-authored a dozen cookbooks. Most recently, she collaborated with Nancy Silverton on Mozza at Home (which I recently wrote about for the UT). Just a few months ago Silverton also appeared at a Good Earth/Great Chefs book signing. Along with book writing, Carreño has written for publications including Bon Appétit, Saveur, Gourmet, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times.

Born in Tijuana, Carreño grew up in Mount Helix. While she spent time living in New York, she's recently moved into the house she grew up in.

Bowls of Plenty is filled with one-dish meals targeted to the home cook. The recipes feature vegetables and optional meats that top a foundation of whole-grain staples. And, while that sounds like they would primarily be for lunch or dinner, there are also sweet and savory breakfast bowls and even dessert bowls.

At the Good Earth/Great Chefs booksigning, Carreño will be serving her Sambal Tofu Bowl. Below she shares another of her recipes you'll find in the book:

Photo by Beatriz de Costa
CHINO RANCH VEGETABLE BOWL with Kale Pistachio Pesto and Bagna Cauda 

Chino Ranch is a farm in my hometown, San Diego, made famous in the early 1970s when Alice Waters fell in love with their green beans because, unlike grocery store green beans, they actually had tasted like green beans. Extraordinary as those beans are, the Chinos are most famous for their corn, which, were you to try it, will ruin you to any other corn for life. I am lucky enough to call the Chinos friends, and to have easy access to their delicious vegetables. Naturally, I serve many a bowl in honor of them and their ever-changing, unparalleled produce. Pesto is so easy to make I can’t understand why anyone would buy it. You just throw a bunch of stuff in a blender or food processor and go. Try it, you’ll see. I make this with kale but use any combination of basil, parsley, kale, or arugula; as long as you start with 2 cups of leaves, you’ll have pesto. 

Serves 4 to 6

2 red or yellow bell peppers (or 1 pound mini sweet peppers)
2 ears corn, shucked
½ pound Romano beans, green beans, or yellow beans, stem ends trimmed
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends snapped off
1 pint small cherry tomatoes, such as Sweet 100s, Sungolds, or another sweet summertime variety
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Kale Pistachio Pesto (recipe follows)
Bagna Cauda (recipe follows; optional)
1 cup farro, cooked (about 3 cups cooked farro) and cooled to room temperature
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced, or burrata, broken into segments with a spoon
½ cup fresh basil

Preheat an outdoor grill to high or a stovetop grill pan over high heat. Brush the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Put the vegetables on the grill and grill until they are black in places, turning to grill all sides,  and removing each vegetable from the grill to a plate as it is done. (For bright green asparagus and green beans like those pictured rather than grilling them, blanch them for 1 minute in boiling, salted water and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.)

Cut the corn kernels off the cob. Remove and discard the cores and seeds from the bell peppers (if you used baby peppers, leave them as is) and slice the peppers into thin strips.

Serve family style, with big platters of the summer veggies, the sauces in small bowls, and the grains for people to make their own bowls.

Makes about 2 cups I

1½ cups packed torn kale leaves
½ cup packed fresh parsley or basil leaves ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons pistachios (or pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts), toasted
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of 1 lemon

Put all the ingredients except the lemon juice in a blender or food processor and blend until the pesto is smooth with some flecks, stopping to scrape down the side of the blender once or twice. The pesto should be loose and spoonable, not globby; if it’s too thick, add more oil and blend it in. Stir in the lemon juice just before using. Use the pesto or refrigerate in a covered container for up to 2 days; be warned: the pesto will lose its pretty color with time but it will still taste great. Bring it to room temperature before using.

Bagna cauda means "warm bath" in Italian. It’s a simple condiment made of anchovies, garlic, and olive oil. It turns something as simple as blanched, veggies into something totally special and delicious. Drizzle it on blanched or roasted asparagus, green beans, Broccolini, cauliflower, or sweet peppers. Makes about ¾ cup

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (1½- to 2-ounce) can or jar of anchovies (8 to 11 anchovy fillets), anchovies removed from the oil and minced
6 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane or minced
A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
A few turns of freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant and the butter and oil just start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to very low and cook for 10 minutes so the flavors can all make friends. Serve warm.

Excerpted from the book BOWLS OF PLENTY by Carolynn Carreño. Copyright © 2017 by Carolynn Carreño. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.  

The Good Earth/Great Chefs event with Carolynn Carreño will be held on Sunday, January 29, 2017 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., rain or shine, at Chino Farm. The address is 6123 Calzada del Bosque in Rancho Santa Fe. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Fennel Gratin

Fennel is the coolest vegetable. It's a bulb and an herb, thanks to its feathery green fronds. The bulb and stems can be eaten raw (think thin slices for a sweet crunchy salad) or cooked--braised, sautéed, roasted, or featured in a soup. It has its own unique anise flavor but is welcoming to all sorts of other flavors. And--at least in our climate--it's a perennial plant.

For years I've used fennel for fresh salads but I've also sliced the bulbs in half lengthwise, brushed the surface with olive oil and then sprinkled grated cheese and bread crumbs on top before baking. It's a side dish I got from my mom.

But, inspired by an eggplant gratin dish I made awhile back, I thought I'd do something similar with fennel. I had two super large bulbs that still had some fronds attached. I separated those and minced them. I trimmed the fennel top and then cored the bulbs before quartering them. With the oven primed for roasting, the bulb quarters and sliced stems went onto a foil-lined baking sheet (along with some garlic cloves for me to snack on), got drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt before going into the oven for roasting for about half an hour.

Then I made a modified sauce with milk, gruyere and parmesan cheeses, green onions for flavor and color, and garlic. I don't love sauces that drown the main ingredient, but having just enough to bathe and flavor can be delightful. This does it. The onions and garlic were sautéed in olive oil to which I added the minced fronds and fresh thyme from my garden. I mixed them in a bowl with the milk, cheeses, and some salt and pepper.

Once the fennel bulbs came out of the oven, I placed them into a ceramic baking dish I'd brushed with olive oil. I tucked the cheesy oniony mixture over and around them. On top I sprinkled a topping made of panko crumbs and more cheese. Finally, I drizzled olive oil.

Into the oven it all went, back at 400° F for about 25 minutes until it was all brown and bubbly. You know you have something when you take a bite and involuntarily sigh and smile.

Fennel Gratin
(printable recipe)
Serves 4


2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed and quartered
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt
6 green onions, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fennel fronds, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
½ cup milk
½ cup grated gruyere cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For topping:

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup gruyere cheese
½ cup panko crumbs
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400° F degrees.

Place fennel bulb quarters on a foil-lined sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for 30 minutes until soft and just becoming brown.

While the fennel is roasting, sauté the green onions and garlic in olive oil (about a tablespoon or more). Don't brown them. You just want them soft. Add the minced fennel fronts and thyme and cook for another minute. Set aside.

Remove the roasted fennel from the oven and place quarters in a baking dish coasted with olive oil.

In a medium bowl, mix together green onion and garlic mixture with milk, cheeses, salt and pepper.
Spread over the fennel in the baking dish.

To make the topping, combine the cheeses with the panko and evenly spread over the fennel bulbs and green onion and garlic cheese mixture. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake uncovered at 400° F degrees for 25 minutes until brown and bubbly.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Teriyaki Salmon Collars

Are we in the age of salmon collars? Back in the 80s, if you had a dinner party, chances are you were going to serve salmon "steaks"--remember them? These were thick cuts of salmon cut perpendicular to the backbone.

Then we seemed to evolve into fillets. They're the same meat--but instead cut parallel to the backbone and the bone. Fillets--of all kinds of fish--are still hugely popular. And delicious. But I'd like to think we've now evolved to enjoying more cuts of more fish. The belly. The tail. The cheeks. Maybe even the whole fish.

One of my favorites, though, is the collar. This is a cut right along the clavicle behind the gills. It's got some rich belly meat and a lovely fat cap. Get that collar near high heat and the fat caramelizes the skin and it becomes this crispy, luxe fish lollipop that you can grab by the fin to suck off the meat. Oh... And did I mention how cheap they are?

I picked up a couple of salmon collars at Catalina Offshore Products last week. They were priced at less than $2 a pound. Then I mulled how to cook them. Yes, they can really flavor up a stew. They're a delight in a curry. Yet to my mind, they're really best grilled, but this hasn't exactly been grilling weather. Instead I could run them under the broiler. Or I could do stove-top grilling using my carbon-steel pan. Since the pan is relatively new to me so I decided to test it out with the salmon using a sugary marinade I thought could possibly confound it (it didn't).

I thought first of using my sister's recipe. She and my brother-in-law had honeymooned in Alaska decades ago and when they returned with a salmon they had caught and flash frozen, they had family over for dinner with the salmon as the main attraction. It's still the best I've ever had. I only vaguely remembered the ingredients--soy sauce, butter, brown sugar...maybe mustard. Sounds great, right? Well, it was but I still need to work on it since I don't have the proportions. But it did get me to thinking about teriyaki as an alternative. And then making my own.

What I found was a recipe published a couple of years ago in Food Republic by Myra and Marea Goodman, authors of Straight from the Earth, a vegan cookbook. Their teriyaki recipe is part of a larger one for Teriyaki Tofu Broccolette on Wild Rice, which sounds fabulous. But in the meantime I made the sauce for my collars. Not exactly vegan, but a good recipe is a good recipe.

The sauce calls for what you'd imagine are the usual suspects--soy sauce, brown sugar, unseasoned rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. It's pretty simple. Put them all in a small, heavy saucepan together with some additional water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer until it thickens. It's wonderfully sweet, salty, and sticky.

I made things even easier by using three of my ginger-garlic flavor bombs. The rest was a snap.

Now you're not really going to marinate the collars. Instead you'll heat up your pan and add an oil with a high smoke point. I used canola. Forget doing the usual seasoning with salt and pepper. The marinade has plenty of each. So clean and trim the collar, which may have some "stuff" hanging on to it--organs and blood lines, for instance. Clip them into two pieces.

Then place them skin side down on the now very hot pan (and open windows, turn on fans because there will be smoke). It won't take more than a minute or two for them to cook up on the first side. Flip and brush the teriyaki sauce on the cooked side. Let the second side get brown and then flip and remove them to a plate where you'll brush more sauce on that side.

That's it. If it burns, don't worry much about it. That's just superficial--and makes it all divinely crispy. The meat inside will be amazing. And if you feel the need to use your fingers, all the better. Save the rest of the teriyaki sauce for seasoning chicken, vegetables, tofu.... You'll want to keep it on hand.

Teriyaki Salmon Collars
Serves 2
(printable recipe)

Teriyaki Sauce
(from Straight from the Earth by Myra and Marea Goodman)

3/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 large salmon collars, cleaned

1. To make the teriyaki sauce, combine the soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes and 1/2 cup of water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. 

2. Bring to the start of a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce sit at room temperature while you prepare the salmon.

4. Heat the pan on the stove top. When it starts to smoke add the oil. Then add the salmon collars skin side down. After no more than 2 minutes flip them over. Brush the cooked side with the teriyaki sauce. After about a minute flip the collars and remove them to a serving plate. Brush that side with teriyaki sauce or pour some reserved sauce on it.

5. Serve with rice or other grains.

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