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1 pound fillet of sushi-grade salmon
1/2 fresh organic lemon
1/4 cup shoyu
2 Tbsp lemon or 1 Tbsp yuzu juice
1 tsp fresh citrus zest (optional but a bit is great if using lemon)
1 Tbsp mirin
1 dashi stock packet – This is also what you want to use when making miso soup, and is a great addition to many western soups as well. Be aware that many commercial dashi powders and stocks are made from yeast extract and/or MSG, and will be less complex in flavor (think vanilla extract vs. imitation vanilla).
Carefully inspect your salmon fillet, removing any bones, and cutting away any excess skin or dark-colored flesh. Optionally, you can now wrap the fillet in a pichit sheet and place back in the refrigerator for 90 minutes. A Japanese invention, the sheets absorb excess moisture and subtly increase the savory character of fish, improving texture, aroma, and flavor. It replicates the controlled aging processes commonly applied to many cuts of fish when preparing sushi and sashimi.
Prepare your serving plate or platter by hand washing it, rinsing it well, and then drying with with a clean cloth.
Using a sharp knife, first remove a chunk, cutting against the grain so that you have a clean edge across your fillet, reserving this piece for another use. Then begin cutting slices at your preferred thickness, drawing the knife towards you and placing each slice on the platter. A great overview of the technique can be found here. Once you have cut enough slices and are towards the other end of the fillet, reserve the other end for another use as well. You'll have about 4 ounces left over from an average 1 pound fillet. It's perfect for making salmon tartare.
Cut slices of lemon (as thin as you can manage), then cut these in half and remove any seeds. Arrange a few of these over the fish slices and dust them with Espelette pepper.
Serve the slices with ponzu with a thin slice of ginger floating in it (either store bought or homemade, see recipe below). Every now and again eat a lemon slice, both to refresh your palate and enhance the natural flavors of the salmon.
Combine all of the ingredients in a clean jar and place in the refrigerator. After three days strain the solids out. Will keep in a clean bottle in the fridge for about one month.
* the cracked cup in the center of the platter is of Chinese origin and dates from the late 1800s. The mending was done with lacquer and gold dust and is known as kintsugi.
* if you keep gluten-free you can make the ponzu using a wheat-free tamari.
• You can briefly sear the salmon before slicing it to add another dimension of flavor., This technique is called tataki. I love adding a bit of Izak N37 when serving it this way. The flavor is non-traditional but quite delicious.
• Try preparing a thinly sliced white fish in the same manner. Serve with a more heavily citric ponzu (add a teaspoon or two of lemon or lime juice before serving), and lemon slices dusted with Shabazi N38.
• I have yet to create a successful vegetarian version of this dish, but for something in a similar vein, that's also very fun to eat, check out the vegan variant of my Bagna Cauda, made with miso instead of anchovies.
Food images and recipe © Christian Leue.
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