Wild salmon with daikon, snow peas, enoki salad, and sweet pea-wasabi sauce

The rogue and the refined:  an evening with Bourdain and Ripert

Originally appeared in the October 07, 2010 edition of the Southside Times.

Celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert made reservations at Clowes Hall last Thursday evening, leaving food-for-thought scattered across their conversational cutting boards.  But after the admirative laughter died down, after the fan-eager applause faded, what remained in the auditorium was a sustained sense of culinary camaraderie—between the chefs and, somehow, between the diverse audience.  Continued after the jump:  As mentioned in my previous column, the Indiana Humanities Council has teamed with the Spirit & Place Festival to present the civic and arts celebration, Food for Thought, November 5 – 14.  “Getting people to read and talk,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of the Indiana Humanities Council, “is one of the main reasons [the chefs] were chosen.”

Dominating the first half of the evening was a casual tête-à-tête reminiscent of an improvised routine from the Rat Pack (or their case the ratatouille pack), with Bourdain and Ripert trading places as interlocutors to their seated comrade.  “Eric’s discomfort is exquisite to me,” joked Bourdain.  Watching the on-stage exchanges were humorous and thought-provoking, a bit like viewing a culinary version of The Odd Couple—Bourdain’s Oscar to Ripert’s Felix.

What remains overwhelmingly clear is that these two are friends, ardent in their craft and sincere in their mission, who admire each other’s differences.  In his memoir Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain wrote that Ripert resides in “the thin air at the peak of the culinary Mount Olympus, where the three- and four-star demi-gods dwell.”  Today, I’m sharing a recipe from chef Eric Ripert’s 2008 cookbook, On the Line, Inside the World of Le Bernadin.

Between the roguish and the refined, there’s a sense that this dichotomous discussion fosters awareness about our individual roles and responsibilities as creators and consumers.  Maintaining this honest and inclusive dialogue about the culture of food—in our country and in our community—may end up uniting rather than dividing.  The slogan for the Indiana Humanities Council is “Think.  Read.  Talk.”  For this year’s Food for Thought festival, I’d add one more:  “Eat.”  Pull your chair up to the table and join the conversation.  There’s always room for more.

Wild salmon with daikon, snow peas, enoki salad, and sweet pea-wasabi sauce

Serves 4

Sweet pea-wasabi sauce

2 cups chicken stock

¼ cup diced carrot

¼ cup diced onion

½ slice bacon, diced

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

½ cup sugar snap peas, plus ¼ cup sliced sugar snap peas

½ cup green peas

Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

½ cup mint leaves

1 tablespoon wasabi paste

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Wild salmon

Four, 6-ounce salmon fillets

Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Enoki salad

¼ cup small matchsticks daikon radish

4 snow peas, blanched briefly in boiling water and thinly sliced on the bias

1 tablespoon enoki mushrooms tops

1 ounce honshimei mushrooms, caps only, blanched briefly in boiling water

Yuzu Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Fine seas salt and freshly ground white pepper

Yuzu vinaigrette

1 tablespoon white miso paste

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons yuzu juice

2 tablespoons mirin, reduced to 1 tablespoon

¼ cup ginger oil, strained

Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Garnish

2 ounces baby pea shoots

1.  For the sauce, combine the chicken stock, carrot, onion, bacon, garlic, and the ½ cup sugar snap peas in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Cook for about 15 minutes, until flavors come together.  Strain the broth and set aside.

2.  Blanch the green peas in boiling salted water.  Drain, plunge into an ice bath, and drain again.  Repeat with remaining ¼ cup sugar snap peas.  Transfer both vegetables to a blender, add 2 to 3 tablespoons water, if necessary, season with salt and white pepper, and process to a puree.  Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and set aside.

3.  Blanch the mint leaves in a pot of boiling salted water.  Drain, plunge into an ice bath, and drain again.  Transfer to a blender and puree, adding only as much water as needed to puree.  Set aside.

4.  For the salmon, pour enough water to cover the bottom into a casserole that will hold the salmon comfortably.  Season with salt and place the pot over medium heat.  Season the salmon on both sides with salt and white pepper, place the salmon fillets in the pot, and cook at a simmer until the top of the salmon is just warm to the touch, 5 to 7 minutes.

5.  While the salmon is cooking, make the salad:  Toss the daikon, snow peas, and mushrooms with the yuzu vinaigrette in a small bowl.  Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

6.  To finish the sauce, pour ½ cup of the pea broth into a small saucepan and add ¼ cup of the pea puree, the wasabi paste, 1 tablespoon of the mint puree, and the butter.  Season to taste with salt and white pepper and bring the sauce to a boil.  Just before serving, froth with a handheld immersion blender.

7.  Remove the salmon from the pan and drain on a towel.  Place a salmon fillet in the center of each plate.  Arrange one-quarter of the daikon salad on top of each fillet and top with baby pea shoots.  Spoon the pea sauce around, and serve immediately.

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