This probably would have been better as part of the previous post, since it’s essentially another cucumber and tomato salad. The cucumber salad is by way of a meal I participated in last week in the city, but which post I haven’t finished yet. So it’ll have to do as an addendum of sorts to the tomato post. When I do post the NYC dinner, you’ll see that the message is the same (at least as far as the salad is concerned): a little extra time allows for some pretty profound manipulation of the ingredients, making for a different kind of experience, especially when said salad is low on leafy elements. And I say that as an avowed lover of bowls full of leaves.
The first part was very similar to the tomato-cucumber salad in the first picture of the last post, but with an extra step added for both main components. For the tomatoes- again, our pink brandywines- I cut a little X at their bases and blanched them for 15 seconds in boiling water to loosen the skins. Once peeled, I cut them into eighths radially and then sliced the outer meat from each wedge (saving the rest for soup, sauce, or making tomato water). The resulting slices look an awful lot like expensive tuna. for the cucumber, I seeded, peeled, and thinly sliced a couple, then kneaded the slices with some sea salt until they coughed up some liquid. then I rinsed them and squeezed them dry so they’d soak up a bit of dressing. In this instance, a few drops of sherry vinegar and some black pepper.
Many recipes for pale, delicate things call for white pepper instead, so as not to have black flecks in, say, your béchamel or celery root purée, but too much white pepper tastes like a horse’s ass (though a judicious little can be fantastic) so I go with black most of the time. I simply love good cracked black pepper on almost anything, including fruit tarts. I wear my jagged black shards as a badge of honor. So the slippery, salty slices of cuke got a twist. This technique is simply astonishing for its ability to add depth and density to a simple vegetable like a cucumber; try it, and be converted. I added a bit of purslane and nasturtium for color, texture, and varied flavor, and dribbled a bit of good olive oil and Maldon salt over the tomatoes.
Next up, some salmon. The season in Alaska is just getting started, and that means we can once again get sublime, sustainable wild salmon. To celebrate, makizushi and sashimi, keeping it super-simple. The rolls were leftover short-grain brown rice- the only kind that works for this- and the fish. the sashimi, since we got it from a place that mangles the fillets beyond repair when they debone (no longer) got arranged in a pretty circle since the individual slices were shredded and wouldn’t do the traditional beautiful, striated, rectangular stack thing and then dribbled with homemade ponzu and garnished with one of our first serrano chilis sliced on the bias.
Clean, simple, and filling; this was enough for both adults (the kid is sick with a stomach thing). Stretching a meal out into two or three courses is the easiest way to feel full on less food. And it’s fun to chat while you make the second plate. To drink, a 2005 Huguel Pinot Blanc- a $13 bottle of pure joy, served chilly, fragrantly frolicking with the fat, sweet, hot, and tart alike.