This past Saturday night my friend hosted a dinner party. We sauntered into his apartment fully expecting to be enveloped by the warm blanket of aromas from the diner that our host prepared for us. Little did we know….we were in for a tumultuous ride! Our hosts greeted us with tropical mojitos. Looking back, maybe this was their strategy to anesthetize the shock that they were about to deliver to the 8 guests who had arrived with empty stomachs: they were issuing a Chopped challenge: 4 couples. $40 each. No time limit. 4 entrée dishes. 1 small apartment kitchen with 4 burners. My heart began to palpitate and then burst into a full pound! I love competitions, but they make me feel like I am having a panic attack!
Despite the stress of competing, I had a lovely time. I was so impressed by the incredible skill and thought that went into each dish. Pictures posted below. This dinner took us on a tour of the world: Vietnam, Japan, Britain, Morocco, Thailand, and Jamaica. At the end of the night, our bellies were full, our appetites appeased, and our bodies and minds exhausted from the adrenaline rush of this fierce but fun competition. I loved each and every dish: avocado green curry with chicken, fish tempura spring rolls with chili ponzu dipping sauce, broiled herbed chicken with cous cous and balsamic onion glaze.
It was a wonderful reminder of what unites human beings: the need for sustenance and the desire to provide for those that we love. This simple human universal bonds us all and reminds me that we are more alike than different as a race and species.
Without further ado, please find posted my recipe for fusion fish escovitch with cauliflower potato puree. I will ask my fellow competitors for their recipes so that I may post and share their creations with you.
For salmon skin lovers, the way to ensure a crispy skin involves two critical components: oil and heat. As with other browning of meats, the trick is to leave the fish alone once you place it on the hot skillet skin side down. Only flip once you suspect that the skin has crisped up. Placing it in the broiler will allow the skin to crisp, the flesh to cook, all without over-cooking and over-drying your salmon.
For those who are shy of fish sauce, feel free to omit. This dish would be just as delicious without. Although, I personally love the umami richness that fish sauce lends to the dish.
Mango Pineapple Salsa
½ can pineapple, diced
¼ cup pineapple liquid
2 mangoes, diced
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 shallot, diced
½ bunch of cilantro, minced
2 tbsp sambal, or chili garlic paste
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce/1 tsp salt
Prepare salsa by dicing and mixing ingredients together. Season to taste. Set aside and chill.
Cauliflower potato puree
1 head cauliflower
3 white potatoes, diced and peeled
1 head garlic, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt or to taste
Boil 2 large pots of water. Cut cauliflower into smaller florets. Add in potatoes to one pot of boiling water and cauliflower to the other pot as they have different cooking times. Boil until potatoes are soft ~20-30 minutes. Boil until cauliflower is soft ~15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
While the vegetables are boiling, heat a pan on medium heat and place in olive oil. Add in sliced garlic and sauté until browned ~5-7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside prepared garlic & olive oil.
Place cauliflower into a blender and puree until just smooth. Do not over-puree as it will leave a watery consistency.
Use a potato ricer to mash potatoes.
Add pureed cauliflower to mashed potatoes and add in garlic olive oil and salt to taste.
2 lb salmon fillets
½ c brown sugar
4 tbsp barbecue rub (1 tbsp cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp black pepper, 2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp garlic powder)
1 tbsp chipotle powder
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to broil setting or highest temperature setting.
Wipe salmon with paper towels until the fillets are dry. Place rub on salmon and allow to sit.
Heat skillet on high heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot and shimmery, place salmon fillets on skillet skin side down and sear on high for 3-5 minutes, or until skin is crispy. Leave space in between fillets and sear in batches. Do not crowd the pan. When skin is crispy, use a spatula to place the fish on an oiled baking sheet, skin side up.
Place salmon inside the oven to broil, with salmon skin directly beneath the heat source/flame. Broil 7-10 minutes, depending on thickness and size of the salmon, or until skin is crispy and golden brown.
Place salmon fillet on top of a bed of pureed cauliflower potatoes and top with generous scoop of mango pineapple salsa and serve immediately.