Saturday, 7 March 2009

East meets West

How about that - Jill Dupleix commented on my last post! (Well, I suppose it might just be someone pretending to be Jill, Blogger lacking sophisticated retina-scanning technology, but I'm a trusting soul.) The ultimate gratification for a cookbook geek! I felt a bit guilty that she happened to visit just after one of my more negative posts, though - in fact, I'll come clean: I was mortified. At least two very enthusiastic write-ups are coming your way though, starting with a quick rewind to Thursday evening:

19. Fresh Salmon Burgers (Easy Food)
20. Togarashi Oven Chips
(Spicy Food)

I don't suppose you need me to tell you how to make a salmon burger - for these ones you mulch together (what's not to like about a recipe containing the instruction 'mulch'?) some salmon, shallot, capers, lemon zest, parsley, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, seasoning and an egg white (or in my case half an egg white, because - contain your disbelief as best you can - I halved a recipe for the second time in a row). The thing I found hardest was actually finely chopping the salmon; maybe a better knife would help? Once I'd formed the burgers into patties they seemed very gloopy and I was worried they'd fall apart in the pan (the fate that befalls most of my home-made burgers), but after firming up in the fridge for a bit they were absolutely fine.

The chips, with their Asian spicing, might not seem the most natural partners for the Northern-European favoured burgers, but the serving suggestions did include "pan-fried fish" and "home-made burgers", so I thought home-made pan-fried fish burgers should be a shoo-in. Togarashi pepper, from which the recipe takes its name, crops up a few times in Lighten Up and I'd spent a while brooding on how I was going to get hold of this obscure-sounding ingredient, only to google it and find that it's the same as shichimi, which I'd had in the cupboard all along. D'oh! Anyway, you make the chips by cutting some potatoes into, um, chips (with me so far?), tossing them with a little oil and baking till golden and tender. Once they're done you toss them in the spice mix, which is a combination of togarashi, black pepper, sugar and salt.

The burgers were good - the suggested accompaniment is gherkins, which went extremely well with them (and made Mike deliriously happy; he considers pickles to be one of the major food groups). But the chips - oh the chips! - were bloody fantastic. The black pepper, togarashi and sugar worked brilliantly together, and gave the potatoes a rich, warming, complex spiciness. Actually I sort of cheated and knew in advance that these were going to be amazing - the spice mix makes more than you need, you see, so I'd made it up earlier in the day and had the rest on roasted butternut squash for lunch. I think it'd work well with a huge number of things though; I can see myself sprinkling it on anything that comes within arm's reach of me for a while yet.

Mike says: "The chips were immense, I could have eaten a bucket of them. The salmon burgers were like salmon cakes, but nice and refreshing."

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