Anthony Bourdain’s passing a reminder to explore the culinary world
As I sat down to push the ‘send’ but- ton on this month’s column, I learned of the passing of one of the most influ- ential people in my life: Anthony Bourdain.
So, I threw my work out and started anew. I feel compelled to share a few words of inspira- tion that he provided me. This man, who I never met, influenced my life and changed my destiny.
To make your way in the culinary world, as in all walks of life, you must choose your own path and stick to it. The path of least resistance is not always the best case, either. This became evident some 20-plus years ago when I was laughed out of the room by a certain posh cooking school in New York. At the time I did not have four years of line-cooking experi- ence and I was chastised for even wasting their time. Application denied. Down, but not out,
I studied the people who had given the world the preverbal finger and soared to great heights in their field of expertise. Bourdain was one of those people. The words I took to heart were, and I paraphrase here:
“To be a great chef, travel as far as your money will take you and work as long as you can in the kitchens that will have you.”
That was an epiphany for me. From that mo- ment forward I married my ability to fly wide- body jets around the planet to my culinary education and journey. And for that, I am very thankful. When I desire to learn a cuisine, I travel to the source and learn from the best. The lesson is cultural as well. We should all take the time, no matter where we are, and listen – I mean really listen – to what people are saying. The world would be a better place if we stopped tweeting and just sat down to share a simple meal together.
I have no regrets that I never got to meet Chef Bourdain – his words and actions alone were inspiration enough. But if someone changes your life in a profound way, please let them know. Just a small tip of your cap may change their life in a positive way, too.
This month, I offer some out-of-the-box and somewhat wacky recipes that are actually very complementary. All of the ingredients are eas- ily obtainable at any local store and are sure to amaze and bewilder your dinnertime guests.
Savor the moment in life and step outside of your own comfort zone once in a while. The results may surprise you.
CEDAR PLANK ALASKAN SALMON WITH MARTINI SAUCE
1 salmon filet
1 cedar plank
1⁄2 medium sized shallot, minced 2 Tablespoons juniper berries,
1 Tablespoon green peppercorns,
Juice of two limes
1 lime, sliced
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped 1 cup dry vermouth
2 ounces Gin
1 chive, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1⁄4 cup green olives, sliced
Brown sugar, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro, for garnish
Soak cedar plank in water for about an hour.
In a saucepan combine vermouth, shallots, juniper, and peppercorns.
Bring to a boil and reduce by two-thirds. Add butter and stir until completely mixed. Remove from the heat.
Preheat your grill and place sliced lime atop the cedar plank.
Reheat your sauce and add the olives, gin, lime juice and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you don’t like the flavor at this point, add a pinch or two of brown sugar. Carefully pour over your salmon filet. Use the sink so that the overage is an easy clean up.
Sprinkle the filet with parsley and cilantro.
Place your salmon on the grill and using indirect medium heat close the lid to cook.
Check on it in about 15 minutes. Salmon is perfectly done when you can see the fat just start to cook. (The white stuff that starts coming out). If you’re still not sure, take a taste to insure the correct texture.
A word of caution: Alcohol is flammable.
WASABI MACADAMIA NUT HALIBUT
2 pounds of Halibut
2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 cup or more of macadamia nuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/3 of a cup olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 small squeeze of wasabi paste
Juice of half a lemon
Zest of half a lemon
Half a lemon sliced, not juiced
A nice slice of Parmigianino cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
A handful of French-fried onions to plate
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut a lemon in half and juice one side. Then with a grater, remove
some zest. Slice the other half of the lemon thinly and reserve. Rinse the halibut; pat dry. Place in a pre-greased baking dish. Rub the fish gently and sparingly with the lemon pepper.
In a blender, or food processer, mix the basil leaves, garlic cloves,
wasabi paste, macadamia nuts, cheese, and lemon juice. Add oil to achieve desired consistency. A chunky paste, not quite smooth, is what I like.
Spread pesto mixture over the top of the halibut to cover and then place a few lemon slices over the top for added flavor.
Bake the halibut, uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until tender to the fork.
Allow halibut to cool and the plate over a handful of Fried onions for a crunchy surprise.
Note: You just made a pesto. Mix it up. There are no rules. Use what you have on hand. Basil, garlic, and some form of nuts are but just a base to start from. Parmesan cheese is cool to. Go nuts, go wild, and find your own style.
4 Tbsp horseradish
1 jigger of Gin
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh round pepper
In a small bowl combing all ingredients except the Gin. Stirring with a fork add small amounts of the Gin until you
achieve a desired constancy. It is better to be on the thicker side. Cover, refrigerate and give it another stir just before serving.
GRILLED WILD ALASKAN SALMON WITH BLUEBERRIES
Half of a red, or king salmon fillet
A large pinch of salt
A large pinch of pepper
4 sprigs of thyme
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups of blueberries
2 cups of white wine
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 stick of cinnamon
1 Tablespoon butter
In a small saucepan add shallots, wine,
vinegar, thyme, cinnamon and a small pinch of salt. Reduce until the liquid has all but evaporated, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir oc- casionally.
When reduced, add blueberries, half the butter, and honey, cook until the berries are
soft and the sauce turns pink.
Heat grill to medium high and make a foil
boat, with the edges folded up.
Place foil on grill and add remaining butter. When melted, place salmon in the boat and spoon the blueberry mixture over the
salmon. Reserve some sauce for the presen- tation. Grill for about 10 minutes or until the salmon flakes. Another way to tell that the fish is done; the white fat rises to the surface.
Plate salmon and drizzle with just a bit of the sauce.