Japanese Stuffed Salmon

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Only last week. Came the time, and dinner was not my plan. The time was right for us to ride down the river in our canoe. A few years ago, I bought the canoe for J’s 50th; we’ve had many agreeable days paddling rivers and Great Lakes, talking, taking pictures, enjoying days. This late in the summer, though, was my first time this year; it was the day before we heard the results of the biopsy (though we didn’t speak about it). I think we caught the last day before the leaves and light have become autumn. Pleasant times catch you by surprise.

Though we’d talked about cooking something on the hibachi (which we haven’t used enough this summer either), it was getting dark by the time we got home: lots of luscious leftovers… The next day my plans got away from me again. A recipe in Shizuo Tsuji’s book looked good. Seeing the bag of lovely yellow potatoes I couldn’t help thinking how nice they would look with pink-orange salmon.
Turns out the tastes were a very agreeable combination as well.

Stuffed Foil-Baked Salmon
Sake Sarada Tsutsumi-yaki

from: Japanese Cooking
A Simple Art
by Shizuo Tsuji

serves 4
page 359

  • about 1 pound salmon fillets with skin (4 fillets)
  • 3 potatoes, peeled
  • ½ medium carrot
  • ½ medium onion thinly sliced
  • 1 Japanese cucumber thinly sliced (½ Western cuke, peeled and seeded)
  • ½ cup mayonaise
  • black pepper
  • butter
  • 4 12-inch squares aluminum foil
  • 1 lemon, cut into thin slices
  • 4 or 8 shiitake mushrooms, wiped and trimmed

Salt both sides of the fillet pieces then let rest 1 ½ hours. Pluck out stray bones with tweezers. Place each fillet piece skin side down on cutting board. Cut two wings in each piece, using the butterfly cup technique (kannon-biraki).
While salted pieces of fillet rest, prepare the stuffing —essentially a potato salad. Cut potatoes in quarters, lengthwise. Boil with carrot pieces of the same size until just soft. Drain, salt, and heat over high heat, uncovered, to evaporate moisture. A film of potato starch will form on pot bottom when done. Chop potato and carrot into ¼-inch pieces.
Separately salt the onion slices and cucumber slices and let stand 15 minutes; then press any moisture out of each. Both these ingredients should be very limp. Combine potatoes, carrots, onions, and cucumber with mayonnaise and add freshly ground pepper last.

To assemble and cook:
Preheat oven to very hot (475°F/250°C). Butter the center of each 12-inch square of foil. Make a handful of salad into a ball. Place it onto a fillet, and press the salad into a rectangular shape in the middle of the fish. Fold the flaps to partially enclose the stuffing. Flip the fish/stuffing onto the center of a sheet of foil, skin side up.
Top the fillet with a pat of butter, a slice of lemon, and one or two mushrooms. Fold two edges of the foil to the center and fold over to seal them together. Fold the other two edges to seal the pouch. Make four pouches. Bake for 15 minutes. Do not turn the pouches.

To serve:
You can place the hot packets on plates and allow each diner to open his own packet at the table. Or you can open the foil packets in the kitchen, transfer the stuffed fillets to deep plates, and drain juices from the packets over the fish.

what time is it? it is by every star
a different time,and each most falsely true;
or so subhuman superminds declare

—nor all their times encompass me and you:

when are we never,but forever now
(hosts of eternity;not guests of seem)
believe me,dear,clocks have enough to do

without confusing timelessness and time.

Time cannot children,poets,lovers tell—
measure imagine,mystery,a kiss
—not though mankind would rather know than feel;

mistrusting utterly that timelessness
whose absence would make your whole life and my
(and infinite our)merely to undie

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3 thoughts on “Japanese Stuffed Salmon

    • I’m glad you liked it: for how easy it is, it’s really pretty.

      I’d like to try it with bamboo leaves. It would look elegant on a plate, don’t you think?

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