To make the vinaigrette, heat the butter in a small skillet over low heat until it browns, 15 to 20 minutes. Watch carefully as the butter can burn quickly. The butter should have a nutty aroma. In a blender, combine the passion fruit juice, orange juice, shallots, ginger, mustard, and sugar and blend until pureed. While the machine is running, slowly add the browned butter to make an emulsion. Be careful, as the mixture may foam up when the hot butter is added. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. The vinaigrette should be served slightly warm.
Divide the rice into the 4 lightly greased metal ring molds. Press the rice firmly into the molds to form cakes. Sprinkle the bottom of the cakes with the ground nori and the toasted sesame seeds. Prepare a skillet coated with the canola oil over medium heat. With the rice still in the mold, place the mold in the skillet. Sear the rice cakes on the bottom until they are brown and very crispy. Set the cakes aside without removing the ring molds.
In a non-reactive bowl, combine the salmon, tomatoes, scallions, lime juice, hot pepper sauce, and canola oil. Season to taste with the sea salt and pepper. The salmon should be well seasoned, and be prepared no longer than 15 minutes before serving.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, and canola oil. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the mache and toss gently. Fill a small heavy pot one-third full with the oil and heat to 300 degrees. Add the taro root to the oil and fry until golden brown and crispy. Remove the taro with a large-mesh spoon and drain on paper towels. Season with the salt, to taste, while hot.
PLATING: Spoon equal amounts of the salmon mixture onto each rice cake. Place each mold in the center of a serving plate and gently remove the ring mold. Drizzle the warm vinaigrette around each rice cake and sprinkle with ground nori and toasted sesame seeds. Garnish the top of the salmon with the dressed mache and the crispy taro strings. Serve immediately.
Wine suggestion: Patz and Hall Chardonnay 1998
Copyright 2000, Ming Tsai and Tom Berry, All Rights Reserved
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