Saturday, May 31, 2008

The local goods...

Homemade Dungeness Crab Ravioli topped with a Raw Artichoke Salad
Slow Roasted Copper River Salmon with an Italian Salsa Verde
Faro with Wild Mushrooms and Herbs

My friend Gregory was one of a select group of Vespa food riders in NYC with the responsibility of traversing the tri-state area in search of good grub, for the betterment of all mankind. As one of the elite few willing to wrap themselves in Glad trash bags and endure the pelting rain for a trek to Di Fara’s Pizza in Midwood, Brooklyn, I hold Gregory in especially high esteem (and the pizza was totally worth it). This man knows where to find good food! And so, I am thrilled that he has since transplanted himself to Seattle, offered to show me where to procure the best ingredients and has generously offered up his girlfriends kitchen to cook in and both of their gullets to test any experiments I wish to carry out, the sign of a true friend! Although, somewhat regrettably, our food trek this time is on four-wheels instead of two. I say only “somewhat regrettably” because with so much rain here in Seattle, having to wrap myself in a trash bag and ride would just make the weather seem all the more dreary...

We head to the Wild Salmon Seafood Market at Fisherman’s Terminal. Set against the backdrop of the Shilshol Bay Marina (Salmon Bay, near Ballard), it is the quintessential Seattle fish market (pleasantly devoid of the touristed masses and jackal mating calls of Pike Market). Fresh salmon, halibut, crabs and razor clams are tucked snuggly in ice beds (visions of butter sauce dance in their heads). The obvious jumps out at us, Copper River Salmon, the first of the season!

“What should we do with it?”, Gregory says

“I dunno, what do you think? Ohhhh, razor clams! Should we get some of those?”

“Mmmm, how about some scallops or something?”

“how about some Dungeness crab?”

“what should we do with it?”

“I dunno. What do you think?”

“How about some raviolis?”

“With a fresh artichoke salad!”

“Slow roast the salmon, to keep it moist?”

“I don’t know, I’ve never slow roasted fish before. I usually blast it on high heat and leave the center rare. Wouldn’t slow roasting dry it out?”, a look of disapproval sweeps across Gregory’s face. Damn, no one has ever questioned my methods before!

Too late to hit the Ballard Farmers Market, we head to PCC, the local organic grocery store, where we pick up artichokes, watercress, faro, mushrooms and then it’s back to Hopes house to completely destroy her kitchen…

Gregory and I have been having an ongoing conversation for several months now about the ins and outs of pasta making. So, under a little guidance from me, he busts out his pasta roller and we make a batch of dough together. I don’t really follow a recipe, but rather wing it – a mound of flour with a well in the middle, equal amounts of whole eggs and egg yolks, a little splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. I let him do all the kneading – it’s all about knowing how to delegate! Gregory says his dough is usually too sticky or stiff and that this is the best dough he’s made so far. After rolling it out, he cuts the pasta into circles with a wine glass and pulls out a container of pasta scraps from the freezer. “What are you doing there, Gregory?”, I watch as he methodically tares his pasta scraps into little pieces and layers them with a sprinkle of flour into his freezer container. “Scrapatelli”, he calls it. He saves all his pasta scraps then when he has a good amount going, he cooks them up and eats them! Brilliant! I always just chuck my scraps in the bin, but this is great! They may be odd shapes and whatnot, but it sure beats the hell out of that dried, boxed crap from the grocery store. I think the crew will be enjoying some Scrapatelli when I’m making fresh pasta for the bosses!

Gregory sets the oven to 225 and puts the salmon to roasts for about 40 minutes while he stuffs the raviolis with the Dungeness crab, lemon zest and chives. I’ve been reading so much about eating artichokes raw lately but I’ve never tried them raw, before now. So, I trim the leaves down to the heart, scoop out the furry center, thinly sliced the artichokes and then put the slices in a simple vinaigrette of lemon juice, garlic, salt and olive oil.

In a surprisingly short amount of time, a venerable feast appears on the table and we sit to eat. The salmon is really moist and I will definitely be slow roasting my fish from here on out. The artichoke salad is crisp and nutty and totally worth every ounce of labor. As with any good dinner party, over several bottles wine, we solve all the worlds’ political problems and social ills, and then slip blissfully into a food coma. Life is good.

FOLLOW-UP: The next night, I cooked some Wild Alaskan Halibut (one piece, weighing 3 1/5 lbs, and fairly thick) for the crew and slow roasted it at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for almost an hour. It turned out perfectly cooked and really moist inside, by far, the best way to cook such a finicky fish! I served it topped with diced tomatoes, preserved lemon, basil, olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. It was gone in 5 minutes… I will definitely be slow roasting my fish from here on out!

1 comment:

Lars said...

What can I say... I wish on the boat to taste your new know how :-)

Keep on learning :-)

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