Thursday, September 20, 2007

Broiled Salmon Glazed with Dijon and Rice Vinegar, circa 1988 - Do two ingredients count as a "recipe?"

I was just starting my first day at the Carnelian Room; a huge, busy kitchen at the top of the Bank of America Building in San Francisco. I was very young, and very nervous, and wanted my debut to go as smoothly as possible. Luckily I was assigned to the Fish Station, which was run by a very nice fellow named Phil. He told me that all he needed me to do was make the salmon for a banquet that night.

He said it was a French/Asian style salmon dish made with Dijon and rice vinegar. I was told to "grill off" (mark on the grill, but not cook all the way) the salmon filets and get them set up on sheet pans. No problem. It took about an hour or so, but I did a nice job and they looked great with their perfect diamond shaped grill marks (10 and 2’oclock, for you Culinary students out there).

Then he told me to make the glaze for the salmon. I asked him where the recipe was. He laughed and said there wasn't one. He was going to tell me, and I was going to remember it, or it would be my last night there. I was starting to sweat and pulled out my little note pad I always kept in my pocket (another tip for you cul students, always have a pen and paper) so I could write the recipe down. He said something to the effect of “put that f**king thing away!” He said if I couldn't remember this recipe then I had no place being in a kitchen. Then he said, take a quart of Dijon and mix it with a quart of rice vinegar, and brush it on the salmon. That was it; half Dijon, half vinegar. We both had a laugh and I realized this was a very mild rookie hazing I had just endured.

Anyway, this simple two-ingredient combo is a really great salmon glaze. The sugar in the seasoned rice vinegar caramelizes under the broiler, and the sweet, salty vinegar works perfectly with the tangy mustard. While the original, circa 1988, only had two ingredients I've added a couple of optional things, some Sriracha hot sauce and a pinch of salt. Nowadays they call this fusion cuisine. Back then they called it a great way to make a young cook sweat! Enjoy.

2 salmon filet
1 1/2 tbl Dijon
2 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp hot sauce (optional)
salt, if needed (rice vinegars can vary in sugar and salt content)


Anonymous said...

I love salmon with anything, I'll have to try this. Will brown mustard work?

Chef John said...

Brown yes! bright yellow, No!

Anonymous said...

Great photo! I like your artistic addition of the hot sauce. Sounds like a great glaze!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John,

Im Jake from the Philippines. You know, I've always wanted to learn how to cook, but I never know where to start from because culinary schools here are pretty expensive.

But the moment I stumbled upon your Blogsite, I got inspired by your easy to follow yet very creative and mouth watering recipes.

I want to thank you for sharing your talent and knowledge to Chef wannabes like me.

You gave me hope and a good head start into entering the Culinary world. Thank you so much!

Chef John said...

Thanks! You're the reason I do this... that, and the fame and money.

Anonymous said...

i also have a recipe like this but I use mayo. trust me this works, it makes it so succulent, and moist. i just put the salmon filets on a lightly greased dish. Chop a couple of onions. Put the onions on the salmon, season(salt and pepper), then glop on the mayo. Bake until flakey and enjoy!

Chef John said...

excellent use of the culinary term "glop!"

choosehappy said...

I happen to have only "Natural rice vinegar" on hand but will try this tonight and report back. It seems tangy (lacking the "seasoning", it's no surprise), so I'll probably toss in a tsp of sugar to help center the flavor.

Thoughts? I'll report back anyway :)

Chef John said...

good idea, seasoned RV has sugar and salt added. good luck.

choosehappy said...

Well, it worked! I went with a 1/2 tsp instead of full tsp of sugar, and made some guesses on the salt (dashes , not pinches).

The flavor was pretty good, but I think I could have done more salt and maybe even a little more sugar (just a tad). Also, I overcooked it (I'm paranoid about undercooking things) so it was a bit dry. NOT the recipe's fault :)

I should have kept a bit of the sauce for dipping, but just went with the Sriracha dots and it worked great (what a great pairing of flavors! My compliments :)

(Afterword: found this page for vinegar substitutions. Looks like it's 3:1 vinegar/sugar, so I was close.)

Gary said...

I tried this recipe today with a two modifications. First, I always grill my salmon - sun, rain or snow. Broiling just doesn't compare if you have a choice or the willpower to stand in the rain.

Second, I used chipotle Tabasco instead of sriracha. The slight smoky flavor that it added on top of the grilled salmon was, well - explosive! This is not an mouth was watering with every bite.

This will be a standard go-to sauce for grilling salmon in the future!