Sunday, September 2, 2007

New Orleans

I'm not saying salmon is a traditional Creole ingredient. But I'm sure they'd understand, particularly if their nearest significant body of water was limited to a lake with a maximum depth about the same as a decent above ground swimming pool. What is "authentic" is that the Coho, or Silver, Salmon was fresh. Picked up by the fishmonger at the airport this morning after arriving on a flight from Alaska. Around here it's impossible to beat Kate's Fish at the West Side Market. Kate's attitude may be as seasonal as the fish, but the prices are fair and the selection is honest. Today I saw them throwing away pounds and pounds of Halibut that wasn't up to par. They'll get reimbursed for the fish from their connection, but they passed on a lot of sales this afternoon. Most of the rest of the dish is pure New Orleans, or at least as best as this Jersey guy can do it.

There are three components: The fish, the shrimp remoulade (which is really two components in itself), and the fried green tomatoes. I take no credit for the shrimp/fried tomato combination. I copied if from Upperline in New Orleans, where I had one of the best meals of my life. Chuck, at The Gumbo Pages (http://www.gumbopages.com/) discusses the recipe, and has a great New Orleans themed website. Danno, at NOLA Cuisine (http://www.nolacuisine.com/), has some great recipes and commentary too. Danno doesn't know it, but he's my hero.

The salmon part is simple. The rest, while by no means difficult, is a bit time consuming. But if everything is laid out beforehand preparation goes pretty quickly, and there are ample times to pause and grab a drink. The sauce is best if it hangs out in the fridge for a bit, so you'll want to make that first. Here it is:

Shrimp Remoulade*

Remoulade
Ingredients:
- Egg yolk
- Lemon juice
- Whole grain mustard
- Creole mustard powder (If you can get Creole Mustard, which shouldn't be too tough, that can be used in place of the mustard powder and whole grain mustard. It'd likely be preferable.)
- Oil, of neutral or pleasant flavor (I used half peanut and half olive.)
- Bell pepper, roughly diced (Mine was a California Wonder that was mostly red with some green.)
- Onion, diced (I used a sweet white onion from the North Union Farmer's Market at Crocker Park.)
- Celery, roughly diced
- Chile pepper, roughly diced (A Habanero is great here.)
- Carrot, roughly diced
- Ketchup
- Cilantro, chopped well
- Salt and pepper
- Cayenne
- Water to thin it out
Method:
- Put egg yolk, mustard, mustard powder, cayenne, lemon juice, and some salt and pepper in the work bowl of a food processor (I use a mini food processor, and it's great for things like this and pesto. I don't have a full size one, but I'm sure it would work too.)
- Pulse that stuff to combine it
- Now add oil slowly, through a hole in the processor's lid if it's there (It should be there.)
- Enjoy the magical process of watching these liquids form into a viscous mayonnaise (It's enjoyable to do this part by hand, but you'll see in a second why I used the processor here.)
- Once there's a nice thick mayo, stop adding oil
- Add diced bell pepper, onion, celery, chile pepper, and carrot, some ketchup and process
- When sauce has just little specks of the veges showing, and no more big chunks, stop processing
- Thin with a bit of water if you'd like (Keep in mind that it will thicken up a little bit in the fridge. If you're going to err, err on the thick side. It's easier to thin it out later than mess around trying to thicken it up.)
- Now add the cilantro and pulse
- Congratulations, you have made a remoulade
*It appears that there are as many ways to make a remoulade as there are people who make it. Take a look at The Gumbo Pages and NOLA Cuisine, and if that's not enough, or you don't trust internet sources, compare James Peterson's treatise, Sauces, to the lovely The Silver Spoon cookbook. If there's a consensus, I can't find it. So I took some license, as did those before me.

Shrimp
Ingredients:
- Bell peppers, chopped
- Onion, chopped
- Carrot, chopped
- Celery, chopped
- Old Bay Seasoning (Or the like. I imagine a liquid crab boil would be nice in here too.)
- Peppercorns
- Salt
- Shrimp, uncooked, shell on, preferably (Thawed if they were frozen. I thaw them by putting the frozen shrimp in a bowl in the sink and letting cold water slowly run over them. It goes fast. Once they are thawed they go in the fridge, but I tend to do this at the last minute so they go right from thawing to cooking.)
- Ice bath (Bowl of ice water.)
Method:
- Get a pot full of water similar to what you'd use to make pasta
- Put bell peppers, onion, carrot, celery, Old Bay, peppercorns, and salt in the water
- Bring the pot and it's fillings to a rapid boil
- Add shrimp
- Once water starts to simmer again turn off the heat
- Let the shrimp steep in the infused water for about five minutes
- Remove shrimp and place in ice bath (The veges, sadly, get discarded.)
- Once shrimp have cooled peel them (Try one to make sure its cooked through. It should be, and it should taste good. Also, work on getting the whole tail out of the shell. I believe that last little bit of the tail is the best part.)
Putting it together:
- Combine shrimp and remoulade a few minutes before serving

Fried Green Tomatoes
Ingredients:
- Green tomatoes
- Cornmeal
- Bread crumbs (I used Panko, 'cause that's just what folks use these days.)
- Flour
- Egg
- Cayenne
- Salt and pepper
- Oil for shallow frying
Method:
- Set up three bowls next to each other
- Put flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and cayenne in one bowl
- Put egg with a bit of water mixed in in the next bowl
- Combine equal parts bread crumbs and cornmeal in the third bowl
- Preheat pan
- Slice tomato
- Add oil to pan and get it hot enough so tomato will sizzle when placed in there
- Dip slice of tomato in flour, then knock off excess flour
- Dip flour coated slice in egg wash
- Dip now egg and flour coated slice in bread crumb mixture
- Place in pan and brown each side
- Let rest on a paper towel

Salmon (the easiest part)
Ingredients:
- Salmon (Or any fresh fish that's not too flakey)
- Oil, for high heat (Mixing Canola and butter works great, but I just used Grapeseed oil here.)
- Salt and pepper
Method:
- Preheat pan to get it very hot
- Add oil
- Season both sides of fish with salt and pepper
- Place fish, presentation side (here flesh side) down (Shaking the pan right when the fish is put in, and every now and then thereafter, will help ensure the fish doesn't stick if you're using an uncoated pan.)
- When colored nicely flip over, lower heat a drop, and let it cook through (If it's not cooking through or is a particularly thick piece of fish, throw it in a hot oven, assuming the pan has oven safe handles, or cover the pan. Putting it in the oven is preferable to covering the pan. Try both methods and I think you'll agree.)
- Serve

Thats it. I put some leaf lettuce down under the fried green tomatoes--it traditionally goes with shrimp remoulade. I also garnished with diced and whole chives, and diced avocado, because I had both laying around. It's a good meal. Blackened Redfish may have been even better, but this wasn't too bad.

More on New Orleans

Catfish Po Boy at Johnny's Po-Boys, Muffuletta at Central Grocery, Hurricanes at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, dinners at Brigtsen's and Upperline, Roast Beef Po Boy at the Gumbo Shop, Coffee and Chicory and Beignets at Cafe Du Monde, music at jazz clubs, bars, and in the street, dancing . . . it just kept going. We also saw the Lower 9, the 17th Street Canal, other devastated neighborhoods, and scenes that would make you think Katrina hit two weeks, not two years, ago. It was my first trip to New Orleans, and I hope it won't be my last. The place is like it's own world, and even though I can't compare how it is now to how it was before the storm, I can say that there is no reason not to go. Things are up and running. It's as safe as anywhere else--I've never seen so many police. And you'd have to try to find a bad meal. This town convinced me that I could never be a food critic. It's just too much. There was so much goodness it was overwhelming. Now I'm just looking forward to getting a chance to go back.

2 comments:

Danno said...

CFT,

It makes me proud to be someone's hero! I don't know if that has ever happened to me before...do I need to buy a cape? Seriously though, thanks for your kind words!

New cuisines are created by introducing what is available locally to traditional recipes from another region. Keep up the good work, great site! There's a lot of love in this recipe.

CFT said...

Well, I'm honored. Thanks for commenting. After spending a few short days in New Orleans it's no surprise that so much great food, and great food writing, comes from those who live or have spent some significant time down there.