Here's another dish inspired by friends abroad, inspiring intense jealousy and work-stifling daydreams. This guy is living in Taiwan at the moment. His Facebook feed is like a long, schizophrenic Asian menu with a great cocktail list. We trade occasional food notes along with plots to conquer the world, and he's pushed me to try something new - poached fish with dashi.
He recently told me about some salmon he poached in a dashi broth with mirin, ginger and soy. I'm embarrassed I've never tried this before, it's so ridiculously up my alley. Soy sauce and I go way back. This is the perfect opportunity to try some more vicarious eating. Steven, I hope I do you justice!
Let's talk about dashi for a second. Dashi is a Japanese broth typically made with kombu, a dried sea kelp, and bonito, which are shaved, dried fish flakes. You can find them both at Whole Foods, if hitting up the Asian market is not in your near-term reality. If you foresee another use for the broth, double this recipe and freeze the rest. And if you're pressed for time or ingredients, you can actually make this dish with just water, or vegetable or fish stock. The final flavor will be different, but definitely still delicious.
I added some enoki mushrooms and snipped chives to finish the dish. Enoki mushrooms are these crazy, tentacled, delicious things that make anything look fancy, and they're increasingly more readily available (again, Whole Foods is a good bet). Even better, they're not expensive. You can sub in a range of mushrooms, but I would steer clear of portabello or oyster mushrooms. Try to stick with something more delicate that won't overtake the nuanced broth and tender salmon.
Salmon Poached in Mirin and Soy
Stovetop, knife, skillet, saucepan, wire mesh strainer
2 cups / 470 mL water
2 pieces of kombu
.5 cup / 100 g bonito flakes
2 salmon filets
1.5 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs mirin (Chinese rice wine) . You can sub in sherry or sake.
1 hunk of ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
enoki mushrooms, trimmed
snipped chives for garnish
If you have time, combine water and kombu in saucepan and soak for 30 minutes or longer - it deepens the flavor of the broth, but isn't totally necessary.
Then turn up the heat to medium and cook until just barely simmering, about 8 minutes. Remove the kombu. Add bonito flakes, bring back to a boil, then turn off heat. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Strain the broth through the wire mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or paper towel. You can throw away the used kombu and bonito flakes, or keep for another use, if you're crafty like that.
Pour broth back into pan and add mirin, soy sauce, and ginger. Over medium-low heat, bring to a low simmer. Add salmon, cover, and cook 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, then turn off heat. Put the cover back on pot and let coast for another 4-6 minutes. Total cook time will depend on the thickness of your salmon and how cooked you like your fish.
Serve in shallow bowls with a good bit of poaching liquid and snipped chives for garnish.
This dish would taste great alongside rice or soba noodles, plus broccoli or spinach sautéed with soy sauce, lemon juice and sesame oil.