Slow-Cooked with Green Romesco: Chef Morimoto's Take on Salmon
While many diners make a reservation at Morimoto New York solely for Masaharu Morimoto’s exquisite sushi, it would behoove them to also spring for one of his warm Western-inspired creations.
At this minimalist Japanese restaurant in the Meatpacking District — one of several in Iron Chef Morimoto’s expansive culinary empire — a slab of king salmon accompanied by splashes of piquant green romesco sauce, charred lily bulbs, green almonds and shiso is a light and vibrant reflection of the season. “This dish is not found in a typical Japanese restaurant because it doesn’t use any soy sauce. The green romesco has a spicy kick, which pairs nicely with the tender, slow-cooked salmon,” Morimoto explains.
Spring certainly inspires cleaner, wholesome eating, and this salmon is something Morimoto’s health-minded wife would surely attempt to whip up for him.
“My wife cooks for me when I am at home. As we get older, she started making a Japanese version of comfort food with lots of vegetables — and less sodium and fewer fried ingredients,” he says. “Salmon might be considered predictable, but when the fish is really fresh it tastes absolutely delicious by simply being grilled with a little salt.”
Slowly Cooked King Salmon, Green Romesco, Charred Lily Bulbs, Finger Limes and Shiso
For the Salmon:
6 ounces king salmon
Salt and pepper
Season the salmon with salt all over and pepper only on the skin side. Place on a sizzle tray with 75 percent olive oil and 25 percent water, and cook in a 200-degree oven basting every 45 seconds until desired temperature is achieved.
For the Green Romesco:
1 medium shallot, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted golden brown
1 large green bell pepper, seeded
2 green finger chiles, seeded
1 knob ginger, peeled and sliced
1 Japanese cucumber
Peel of 1 lemon, pith removed
5 ramp greens
1 cup spinach
1 cup dashi
1 cup crusty bread (baguette), cut into 3-inch cubes
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Salt, to taste
Saute the shallot slices and garlic in the olive oil slowly until golden brown. Toast the almonds at 300 degrees F until golden brown and even. Combine shallots, garlic, olive oil, almonds, bell pepper, chiles, ginger, cucumber, lemon peel, ramps, spinach, dashi and bread cubes in a Vita-Prep and puree on high until smooth. Season gradually with sherry vinegar and salt. It generally takes a bit more vinegar and salt, but it should be seasoned to taste. It should taste very bright and well-seasoned.
For the Shiso Oil:
2 ounces shiso leaves, stems removed
2 cups grapeseed oil
Blanch the shiso leaves in boiling water for 90 seconds and then shock in ice water until completely cold. Squeeze out all water and puree with grapeseed oil on high for 2 full minutes. Cool immediately over an ice bath and then let hang in a chinois for 2 hours. Decant oil from the sediment on the bottom.
For the Shiso Powder:
15 bushels shiso leaves, picked and fried
1/2 cup shiso oil
2 cups tapioca maltodextrin
Salt, to taste
Make sure the robot coupe and blade are completely dry. Process fried shiso leaves in robot coupe with shiso oil and salt. Then add the tapioca maltodextrin in 2 batches until a fluffy homogenous powder is achieved.
For the Crispy Salmon Skin:
Scrape all of the meat off of the skin. Place skin side up on a sheet tray (make sure it’s flat) lined with parchment. Top with another sheet of parchment and another sheet tray. Cook in a 300-degree oven until almost completely dry. Fill up a pot with fryer oil 1/3 of the way up and heat to “just smoking” (somewhere around 435 degrees). Fry skins for about 5 to 10 seconds, plunging to submerge with a spider. The color should be light golden brown. If it gets too dark, they will become bitter. Drain on paper towels and season with salt immediately.
12 lily bulbs, charred in a smoking-hot cast-iron pan with olive oil
5 immature plum diamonds
Diced freshwater chestnuts, charred in a smoking-hot cast-iron pan
Grilled scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
Finger lime pulp
12 diced croutons, sauteed in foamy butter and olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper
Alia Akkam is a New York-based writer who covers the intersection of food, drink, travel and design. She launched her career by opening boxes of Jamie Oliver books as a Food Network intern.