This is where the mash-up really began. We started with the Singapore Sling, the iconic cocktail of multicultural Singapore, followed with traditional South Indian street food, and had miso soup made in the classical Japanese tradition last week. This week’s post highlights the first course to combine these different cultures, with a Japanese miso-glazed salmon served along with an Indian condiment. It may not sound like an obvious combination, but like many unexpected pairings, the sum is greater than its parts.
The traditional Japanese recipes were all from Serious Eats. As part of the mash-up, we enjoyed it with an Indian mint and cilantro chutney; not just any chutney, but Chef Nalin’s family recipe, which he was so kind (after some prodding) to share with the Spicebox Supperclub and our readers.
1/4 cup white miso
1/4 cup mirin
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced green onions
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
4 salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each
Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the first 7 ingredients until smooth. In a small baking dish, cover the salmon fillets with the marinade and turn a few times to coat. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
Remove the fillets from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Preheat a grill (or broiler). If using a grill, grill the salmon skin-side down until the skin is golden and crisp, about 3-4 minutes, then turn over and grill an additional 3-4 minutes. If using a broiler, broil skin-side down without flipping, until the salmon is cooked through and well-caramelized on the top, 4-5 minutes. Serve with rice.
Note: Use 1/2” thick salmon fillets; raise from bottom of pan to prevent fish from getting soggy.
Sumeshi – vinegared sushi rice
(posted by J. Kenji López-Alt, July 13, 2010 at 9:00 AM, Serious Eats)
Make sure that the rice vinegar you are using is not labeled “seasoned” rice vinegar, which already has sugar added to it. I like my rice relatively highly seasoned, but the sugar and vinegar levels can be adjusted to taste.
3 cups short grain sushi rice
3 1/3 cups water
1 piece of konbu, about 4 by 3 inches (see note)
3/4 cup rice vinegar (see note)
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons kosher salt
Place rice in fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water, gently agitating with hands until liquid runs clear. Add rinsed rice and water to rice cooker and cook. Alternatively, place in a heavy-bottomed 2 quart saucepot with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, turn heat to lowest setting, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
Meanwhile, combine konbu, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar and salt are dissolved.
Transfer rice to a 13-inch by 9-inch nonreactive casserole dish (like a pyrex) and spread gently into an even layer using a rice paddle. Aim a fan set to low directly at rice and keep it running during the rest of this step. Carefully sprinkle 3/4 of vinegar mixture over rice by drizzling it over the back of the rice paddle. Combine the rice and vinegar by gently folding it in with a cutting motion, being careful not to bruise or crush any rice grains. Taste rice and, if desired, add more of vinegar mixture. Continue fanning rice and folding until rice stops steaming and grains have achieved a slightly glossy texture that just sticks together when you squeeze them. Keep sushi rice at room temperature covered in a clean damp dish towel, or plastic wrap pressed directly against its surface.
Sweet Soy Glaze
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup sake
1 cup sugar
1-inch knob ginger, roughly sliced
2 garlic cloves, roughly sliced
2 scallions, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the soy sauce, sake, sugar, ginger, garlic, and scallions in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce to a bare simmer and cook until sauce is syrupy and reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 20 minutes. Strain and discard solids. Reserve sauce.
Mint-Cilantro Chutney, Chef Nalin’s family recipe
The ‘green chutney’ is a ubiquitous one in Indian food. The classic type is the ‘pudina’ or mint chutney variant. Its a blended mixture of herb (mint), onion, lemon, garlic, ginger, and green chili if spiciness is desired. The spices that give it the flavor are cumin, aamchoor, salt, and sugar. The details are as follows:
Even though mint is in the name, if one only uses mint, it seems overpowering. So, most people use cilantro along with mint to balance the flavors. I used one bunch mint and two bunches of cilantro. Its a little tedious, but I only use the leaves since the stems tends to make it little too fibrous for my taste. If possible, use the smaller mint leaves since the large ones have veins that are tough. One can make it only with cilantro which is quite nice. I use the juice of one whole lemon, along with half an onion. More lemon is fine, just makes it more ‘citrusy’. Thumb-sized piece of ginger, but best to grate and discard the fibrous parts. Some sweetness should balance the tart flavors. One can use a little brown sugar, but I noticed that Sukhi’s at the Farmer’s Market use apple in their commercial type they sell and I’ve started using about 1/2 an apple. Adds a mild degree of sweetness, and contributes to the consistency.
For spices, you need some salt, usually to taste. The cumin is important. I use smoked cumin (1/2 tsp) which is more intense. (Take cumin seeds and brown them on a cast iron skillet or nonstick pan. Shake frequently. The cumin should be browned but not too dark. Then grind to fine powder.) The aamchoor adds a undertone of tangy flavor. ‘Aam’ is mango, and the spice is actually ground mango stones. Obviously add to taste; I use about a teaspoon. One can also add other spices such as garam masala, or chaat masala (pre-mixed spice combinations that add complexity) to taste. I think I used a dash of each. For ‘heat’, add green chilies, or red chili flakes. Most people would add some but it isn’t essential. I didn’t use any for our dinner.
So, toss everything in a blender and off you go. You’ll need to add some water as well to get things going. Don’t add too much water, or overblend it, it’ll shouldn’t get too watery; it should have some body. If you let it sit overnight, it’ll taste better. It keeps pretty well because the lemon makes it a little acidic.
This is part of the Asian Mash-Up menu, presented by Chef Nalin.
What other unexpected cuisines have you combined? What worked well? What didn’t work well?