For the main dish, we had Salmon with Wasabi Peas, which is always a big hit. This is my adaptation of a dish that some friends of ours serve pretty frequently, which is baked salmon topped with mustard and black sesame seeds, but, as they say in Yiddish without any modesty whatsoever, "fartaytsht un farbesert," or adapted (literally translated into a Germanic language) and improved:
Salmon with Wasabi Peas
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Take a salmon fillet and season it with salt. I usually use a roasted Sichuan peppercorn and salt mix by Penzey's spices, but sea, kosher or even plain salt is fine.
- Take 1 tablespoon sweet white miso and mash it up well so that it is almost smooth. Mix in 1 tablespoon mayonnaise until smooth. (This amount is sufficient for 1.5 to 2 pounds of salmon.
- If you want (and you should) wash a small knob of ginger, less than 1 inch -- no need to peel. Grate it on the coarse side of a grater, take the grated ginger in you hand, and squeeze the juice into the miso-mayo mixture. Mix until smooth.
- Spread a thin layer over the salmon. Don't overdo it, a little is plenty, and even though we are in a recession, you can afford to throw what is left away.
- Take a handful of wasabi peas and whirl in a food processor (a smaller one works better here) or blender until the texture of bread crumbs.
- Sprinkle evenly over the salmon -- not to thickly.
- Bake the salmon for 10-15 minutes. Broil briefly at the end if you want it browner.
- Serve hot, warm, or room temperature.
- The better the salmon, the better the dish. Wild Alaskan salmon is in season, inexpensive and was really good. This can also be made with arctic char. You can also use farmed salmon.
- How long does it cook? One day I will devote a blog posting to this question, but the answer is simple. It depends. In this case, on how cold the fish was when it went in the oven, the thickness of the fish, how much coating you put on, and the kind of fish. In my experience, wild salmon cooks faster and is usually somewhat less forgiving than farmed, but tastes better anyway even if it is a little overcooked.
- The inspiration for the miso topping in dengaku, a Japanese grilled tofu dish. To prepare the dish authentically, you make a sort of custard with miso, sake, eggs, dashi and seasonings. I just use miso, mayo and ginger juice and no one notices.
- One variation worth trying (I haven't done it yet) would be to broil the fish with the miso-mayo but without the peas.