Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tea Smoked Salmon & Crispy Vegetable Rice Paper Roll Platter

     Variety Is The Spice Of Life!
     Sometimes making a lunch platter that has a wide variety of items on the plate does have a way of cheering up a dreary day.  When dining at a Korean restaurant, the endless variety of complimentary small banchon side dishes never fails to make guests smile.  
     At a nice buffet, some people simply like to nibble away while sampling a variety of taste sensations.  It is the tasting experience that counts and it is not important to fill up on large portions of food.  
     Staring at a solitary grilled cheese sandwich on a plate does nothing to awaken the senses on a rainy day.  A plate full off petite portions of interesting food items actually acts as an escape mechanism.  Thoughts drift in many directions with each bite.  A platter full of tasty tidbits can be an inspirational experience.    

     Assembling A Miniature Makeshift Smoker For Tea Smoked Salmon:
     It is easy to make a small fish smoking box with an old worn out soup pot or sauce pot.  An old leaky pot or one that has the handles broken off is a good candidate for being turned into a miniature meat smoker.  A cheap 99¢ sauce pot from a dime store is a good choice too.
     Once an old pot is used for smoking, it should only be used for that purpose.  The makeshift smoker can be used several times and it does not need to be thoroughly scrubbed after each use.  When the creosote and carbon builds up, tossing the old pot in the garbage is an option, because that is where the old pot was destined to be anyway.  
     Smoking a small amount of meat with spices or tea in a home kitchen does cause a little bit of smoke to build up indoors.  An exhaust fan helps to evacuate the smoke.  Smoking a small portion of salmon will not make the house smell like fish.  The aroma of tea or spice smoke actually smells like incense burning and it makes the house smell nice.  
     *This recipe yields 2 tea smoked small salmon filets.  (about 4 ounces apiece)
     • Select an old worn out pot that has a capacity of 2 quarts. 
     • Mix 1/2 cup of coarse ground salt with 1/3 cup of tea leaves.  (Cheap tea leaves or old stale tea leaves are the best choice.) 
     • Place the tea and salt mix in the old pot.  
     • Place 3 or 4 metal spacers in the pot.  The spacers should be about 1" tall.  (Old rusty ring molds are a good choice.)  
     • Select a wire screen or an old small colander that will fit inside the pot.  Place the wire screen on the metal spacers.  (The wire screen or colanders will act as a roasting rack.)
     • Season 2 small salmon filets with Kosher Salt and white pepper.  Place the salmon filets on the roasting rack.
     • Place a lid on the pot.  (The lid should not fit tightly.  There should be a tiny space for the excess smoke to escape.)
     • Place the the assembled fish smoker pot on a burner that is set to medium/medium low heat.
     • Let the smoking pot cook the salmon undisturbed.  
     *When the salt gets hot, the tea will smoke.  Even after the tea leaves are spent and they do not produce any more smoke, the air in the smoking chamber will be like an oven and the fish will cook.  It takes about 20 to 25 minutes for the small salmon filets to be fully cooked.     
     • After 20 to 25 minutes, check the salmon for doneness.  Continue cooking in the smoker if the fish needs more baking time.
     • Remove the salmon from the smoking box after it is fully cooked and smoked.  Set the Tea Smoked Salmon aside to cool.  The Tea Smoked Salmon can be chilled for 7 days.  
     Cleanup:  For the home made smoker, just scrape the carbon black residue out of the pot.  Sanitize with soapy water and rinse.  The home made smoker can be used any time that a small amount of meat needs to be smoked! 

     Teriyaki Yukon Gold Potato Wedges:
     This recipe yields 2 petite portions.
     Step 1:  Boil 4 ounces of Yukon Gold potatoes, till they are tender.
     Cut the potatoes into small wedges.
     Step 2:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.
     Simmer and reduce, till the teriyaki glaze is a syrup consistency.
     Step 3:  Add the potato wedges.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Remove the pan from the heat.    
     Keep the potatoes warm on a stove top. 
     Crispy Vegetable Rice Paper Roll:
     This recipe yields 1 rice paper roll.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan or mini wok over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1/3 cup of very thin sliced red cabbage.
     Add 1/3 cup of very thin sliced white cabbage. 
     Add a little bit of thin sliced onion.
     Add a few strips of thin julienne sliced green bell pepper.
     Add 1/4 cup of mung bean sprouts.
     Stir fry the vegetables, till they are half way cooked.  
     Step 2:  Add 1 pinch of Chinese five spice powder.
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
     Add sea salt.  
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Set the vegetables aside.
     Step 3:  Soften 1 dried large 10" to 12" rice paper spring roll wrapper in warm water to reconstitute it.
     Place the wet rice paper flat on a dampened counter top.
     Step 4:  Mound the vegetables across the center of the rice paper.
     Fold the rice paper over the ends of the vegetable row.
     Roll the rice paper into spring roll shape.
     Step 5:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil in a sauce pot to 360ºF.
     Dust the spring roll with cornstarch.
     Fry the spring roll, till it starts to become crispy.
     Step 6:  Place the spring roll on a wire screen roasting rack to drain off the excess oil.
     Keep the spring roll warm on a stove top.
     Tea Smoked Salmon & Crispy Vegetable Rice Paper Roll Platter:
     This recipe yields 1 lunch platter.
     The banchan items are easy to make.  The Kimchi varieties are available in most Asian food markets.  
     Step 1:  Cut the ends of the fried rice paper roll flat, so the rice paper roll will stand up straight on a plate.
     Bias slice the rice paper roll in half.
     Set the rice paper roll halves on the plate vertically.
     Step 2:  Mix dry wasabi and water for one sauce.
     Mix chinese dry mustard and water for the second sauce.
     Pour the sauces on the plate next to the rice paper roll.
     Step 3:  Set the petite tea smoked salmon filet on the plate.
     Step 4:  Garnish the plate with mini banchan portions of your choice!  The banchan in the photos are:
     - Teriyaki Yukon Gold Potato Wedges
     - Mung Bean Sprouts marinated with sesame oil, chopped scallion and rice vinegar.
     - Firm Tofu Cubes flavored with sesame oil, Chinese five spice powder and ginger paste
     - Reconstituted small sun dried anchovies coated with hoisin sauce and rice vinegar  
     - Napa Cabbage Kimchi
     - Daikon Radish Kimchi

     A tasty tea smoked salmon lunch platter full of interesting flavors!

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