Making good homemade food is frequently an intimidating task for people who aren't particularly at home in a kitchen. Here I will demonstrate how to make a miso poached salmon recipe inspired by chef Gordon Ramsay. I will explain each step from choosing ingredients to plating in a very easy to understand manner, without any kitchen jargon. I will also include supplementary information to help inform the reader. There are no special skills required to complete this recipe and in total it should take around 30 minutes. I hope to demonstrate that anyone is able to make good food in their own kitchen without prior experience or spending a ton of money.
A condensed recipe is provided here:
Step 1: Materials Needed
You will need:
1.Ladle or large spoon
2.Spatula or fish turner
5. High sided pot or pan (large enough to hold stock and salmon)
Step 2: Ingredients
4 tbsp. light or dark miso paste
4 cups seafood stock
1.5 lb salmon, skin on, scaled and boned
4 fresno peppers, seeded to taste
1in piece of ginger, peeled and finely sliced
Juice of 1 lime
1 baby Bok Choy
1 bunch spring onion, chopped
3 bunches of Enoki mushrooms
3 Medium to large shitake mushrooms
1 tsp. toasted sesame seed oil
Step 3: Miso Paste
This is a fermented soybean paste. If your local grocery store doesn't carry it an Asian grocer almost certainly will. This will be used with the fish stock to make the broth. It comes in different varieties but I prefer using the darker red paste.
Step 4: Seafood Stock
Every grocery store should carry this. It can also be made at home, but I find it is frequently not worth the hassle. For other recipes it is certainly worthwhile to make your own stock.
Step 5: Salmon
Salmon gives the dish a little more flavor than other species of fish but any can be used. I have made it with a freshly caught Northern Pike with great results.
Step 6: Fresno Peppers
Fresno peppers should have a shiny, smooth and waxy appearance. When selecting these at the grocer avoid peppers which appear wrinkly or are no longer firm. Depending on personal taste jalapeno or serrano peppers can be substituted, I find fresnos work the best in this dish.
Step 7: Ginger
A fibrous root with a very strong distinct flavor. Always use fresh ginger root in recipes which call for ginger. Many people use powdered ginger which has lost a ton of flavor. Ginger root should be peeled just like you would a potato.
Step 8: Lime Juice
Just like the ginger, fresh lime juice should always be used. The stuff you can buy in bottles simply isn't the same. Roll the lime around using some force with the palm of your hand on the counter. This will help get all of the juice free, then cut in half and squeeze.
Step 9: Baby Bok Choy
Bok Choy, also known as "Chinese cabbage" has a very interesting almost spicy flavor. Its stems have a texture similar to celery and the leaves are more like spinach (not similar flavors). Both are used in many recipes, with the stem frequently being added first as it takes much longer to cook than the leaves.
Step 10: Spring Onions
Also known as scallions, these are in the onion family and have long and skinny, rather than round bulbs. They are much milder than other onions and are used when only a hint of onion is desired.
Step 11: Enoki Mushrooms
Almost exclusively served raw, enoki mushrooms have an earthy and slightly fruity flavor. They also do a lot to help the appearance of a dish. It might be difficult to find these at your standard grocer, but Asian grocers will almost certainly sell them.
Step 12: Shitake Mushrooms
Another ingredient you may have to visit your Asian grocer for, shitake mushrooms have a very earthy flavor. With the gills possessing a strong, almost buttery flavor I can't quite describe. These mushrooms naturally have a lower water content than most making them much meatier than other mushrooms. This gives them a chewy texture when cooked. Dried shitakes are frequently used for their more intense flavor, either will work here.
Step 13: Seseame Seed Oil
A very potent flavor oil used in many Asian recipes.
Step 14: Broccoli
This is another instance where anything other than fresh doesn't cut it. Many people buy frozen broccoli, I'm not sure what possesses them to do this, but it's really not the same.
Step 15: Prep
Step 16: Fresno Peppers
Chop the peppers into small pieces. Either keep or discard the seeded depending how spicy you want the dish to be. The more seeds you keep, the spicier it will be.
Step 17: Ginger
Peel and thinly slice the ginger. Being a fibrous root you want to make sure the ginger becomes soft and tender, thinly slicing ensures this. It also allows more of the ginger flavor to seep out into the broth.
Step 18: Bok Choy Stems
After the leaf is removed, chop the stems into small pieces similarly to how you might chop celery.
Step 19: Bok Choy Leaves
After the leaves have been removed, roll them all into a cylindrical shape and chop. This is an easy way to shred the leaves.
Step 20: Spring Onions
Remove the hollow upper leaves as well as the white root area. You want to keep the middle bit and chop into roughly 1cm pieces.
Step 21: Broccoli
The broccoli heads should be cut from stalk into bite sized pieces.
Step 22: Enoki Mushrooms
Each bunch of enoki mushrooms should be cut away from their base, and individuals separated.
Step 23: Shitake Mushrooms
Shitake mushroom caps should be chopped into bite sized pieces or smaller. Stems should be discarded.
Step 24: Making the Dish
Step 25: Miso Paste
Add the miso paste to the pan while the pan is still cool.
Step 26: Add the Seafood Stock
While the pan is heating add the seafood stock. While you are doing this whisk the miso paste and seafood stock together.
Step 27: Heat and Add Vegetables
Heat the broth to a simmer but avoid boiling. Add the ginger and peppers. Miso paste has a tendency to take on a bitter taste if boiled for too long.
Step 28: Add Lime Juice
Cut the lime in half and squeeze each half into the broth.
Step 29: Add the Salmon
To the simmering broth, add the salmon fillet skin down. This will need to cook for 8-10 minutes or until the fillet feels slightly springy. Keeping the skin on the fillet while cooking serves several purposes. While cooking it keeps the meat together as well as adding salt and extra flavor to the stock.
Step 30: Baste the Fillet
To ensure the fillet cooks thoroughly, use the ladle or large spoon to pour broth over the fillet while cooking. This keeps the top of the fillet moist and ensures the entire fillet cooks evenly.
Step 31: Remove Fillet
Using the spatula or fish turner, remove the fillet from the pan and set aside on a clean plate. Be careful to keep the fillet intact. When in the plate pour a spoonful of broth onto the fillet to keep it moist while the fillet cools, the skin still being on the fillet will also help to retain some moisture. You will want to allow the fillet to cool for around 2 min, or as soon as it can be handled safely.
Step 32: Add the Rest of the Vegetables
While the fillet is cooling add the spring onions, shitake mushrooms, broccoli and bok choy stems (not the leaves). Allow to cook for 2 min.
Step 33: Add the Bok Choy Leaves
Add the shredded bok choy leaves to the pan. Allow to cook for 1 minute. Bok choy leaves take much less time to cook than the stems so they should usually be added later into cooking depending on what you want for the dish.
Step 34: Plating
Step 35: Preparing the Bowls
Add 2 or 3 drops of sesame oil to the bottom of each bowl.
Step 36: Spread Sesame Oil
Using a paper towel, coat the bowl with the sesame seed oil in a very thin layer. Spreading the sesame seed oil over this large area adds a little to the flavor but also creates a fairly strong aroma.
Step 37: Enoki Mushrooms
Add some enoki mushrooms to the bottom of each bowl.
Step 38: Salmon
Remove the skin and flake the salmon. Flaking means to separate the meat into large chunks, it will do this naturally. Add salmon to the bowl on top of the mushrooms. Discard the skin.
Step 39: Vegetables
Using the spatula, add vegetables from the broth to the bowl.
Step 40: Broth
To each bowl add some of the broth. I usually add enough to cover about half of the salmon.
Step 41: Garnish Serve
Garnish the top of each bowl with enoki mushrooms. Not only are these delicious, but they look really good as a garnish and add a lot to the aesthetics of your dish.
I find that cooking good food frequently intimidates many people who are less experienced in the kitchen. Here I hope to have shown that anyone can make good food in their own kitchen with very little previous experience and without breaking the bank.