Cocktail Nibbles

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These make a terrific cocktail or wine-tasting accompaniment.  The first recipe came from my amazing friend Tina, who is a supertalented chef and artist, made this recipe for me once when she was hanging out at our place. I promptly stole it, and have passed it off as my own ever since. I think she’s okay with that. She’s pretty cool.  The second one is the evolution of my families preferences, and it can be easily personalized to fit your family too.

Olive Oil Roasted Almonds

Ingredients

2 cups whole, skin-on almonds

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt – try a Sicilian, Italian, or Spanish sea salt, a smoked salt, or a salt infused with herbs, roasted garlic, olives, red wine, or curry

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon herbs de Provence

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread almonds out on a dry baking sheet. Toast for 15-20 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Stir every 5 minutes or so to ensure even browning.
  1. Pour the hot nuts into a bowl, and add oil and salt right away. Toss to coat, then add cheese and herbs and toss again. Cool to room temperature before serving. Store airtight.

Grown up Gorp 

Nuts and dried fruits have a very long relationship. From pemmican to girl scouts, they are perfectly matched. The sweet, spicy salt additions in this recipe bring this trail tradition into a modern culinary setting.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons herbs de Provence

Grated zest of one orange

1 ¾ teaspoon unrefined sea salt – try American sea salt from the Pacific Northwest, Australian Murray River, a smoked salt, or a sea salt infused with citrus, curry, saffron, or chiles

½ -1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cup pecan halves

1 cup whole, skin-on almonds

1 cup cashews

1 cup sunflower seeds (hulled)

1 tablespoon sesame seed

1 tablespoon flaxseed

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon honey

½ cup dried cherries or cranberries

½ cup pitted dates, chopped

½ cup golden raisins

¼ cup zante currants

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat a baking sheet with pan spray and set aside. Mix together sugar, herbs, orange zest, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  1. Toast pecans, almond, and cashews in the oven on separate dry sheet pans until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes each. (I prefer to toast them separately.) Pour the hot nuts into a bowl, and add the sunflower, sesame and flaxseeds. Add the butter and honey, and toss to coat. Add the sugar mixture and continue to toss until evenly coated.
  1. Spread the mixture out in an even layer on the prepared pan. Bake in 5 minute increments, stirring in between, until sugar has melted, and the mixture is evenly toasted. Remove from oven, toss with another teaspoon of sea salt, then cool completely.
  1. When cool, add cherries, dates, raisins and currants. Toss together, and serve, store air tight for a week, or freeze for longer storage.

 

Onion Jam Allumettes

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These little morsels will be the talk of your holiday cocktail party.  the sweet-salt balance is subtle enough to compliment everything from champagne to your most complicated mixological concoction.

Allumette is the classic term for strips of puff pastry. The word means matchstick, but these are certainly not meant to be that thin. Aim for creating small, thin, bite-sized rectangles.

Ingredients

2 ½ pounds red onion, peeled, cut in half, and sliced thin

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt—try Halen Mōn, flor de sal, a smoked salt, or a salt infused with shitake or truffles.

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs fresh thyme

¼ cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/3 red wine vinegar

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

1 package frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the refrigerator overnight (See the Frozen Puff Pastry in Techniques)

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Add onions, reduce heat, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until the onions begin to sweat and soften. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat until they begin to color—about 30 minutes.
  1. Add ½ teaspoon of the salt, the pepper, the bay and thyme. Cover and continue to cook another 30 minutes.
  1. Add sugar, wine, and vinegars. Increase heat and bring to a boil, stirring, for 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat to as the liquid reduces, and the onions are creamy and sticky.
  1. Cool mixture, then transfer to a plastic tub and refrigerate. (If you make a large enough batch, you can sock some away for use throughout the year—it only gets better with age!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat it with pan spray. Whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash. Open the defrosted frozen puff pastry into a rectangle and rollout slightly, to flatten. You don’t need to reduce the thickness too much—it should be about ¼ inch thick. Brush the surface with the egg wash. Set it in the freezer for 5 minutes so that the dough stays firm when cut.
  1. sing a pastry wheel (aka pizza cutter) cut the chilled, egg washed puff pastry into ½ -inch-wide by 3-inch-long strips. Place them on the prepared baking sheet, about ½-inch apart. Top each wih a small dollop of onion jam, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Chill again for 5 -10 minutes. Bake until golden and puffed, about 15 minutes. Rotate the pan as necessary for even browning. Cool slightly, then arrange on a platter and serve.

 

Chicken Liver Pâté

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This is one of mankind’s all-time great hors d’oeuvres.  No.  I am not over-selling it.

To much of the world, There is nothing fancy about eating chicken livers. But some how the French managed to elevate it (as they do with most mundane things—bread, underwear, smoking, words). Spread this on a thin slice of baguette or toasted rye, c’est manifique.

Ingredients

½ pound chicken livers, well cleaned

2 shallots, chopped

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt – try a sel gris, fleur de sel, Piran, Japanese shio, Maldon, or a smoked salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

½ cup white wine

1 teaspoon cognac or brandy

6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon powdered gelatin

¾ cup port wine or dry sherry

Method

  1. Combine livers, shallots, 1 sprig of thyme, salt, pepper and wine in a small saucepan.   Bring to a simmer and cook, for 3 minutes, until the livers are set and barely pink on the inside. Cover and set aside for 5 minutes.
  1. Drain the liquid off the cooled livers, remove thyme sprig, and transfer solids to food processor. Add cognac and puree until smooth. Slowly add 6 ounces of butter, a tablespoon at a time, as the processor spins; this emulsifies and enriches the pate.

Transfer to serving terrine, then spread and tap the top to smooth it.   Set aside in the refrigerator.

  1. Pour the water in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top. Set aside until the gelatin softens and absorbs the water, about 5 minutes. Bring the port and remaining thyme to a simmer. Add the gelatin and stir until it dissolves, then pour through a fine mesh strainer onto the top of your pate. Chill until set, at least an hour. Serve with crackers, bread, cornichons, assorted pickles, onion marmalade, fresh sliced radishes, and an assortment of cheese, fruits, and nuts.  You’re about to become the entertainer of the year!

Variations

Jelly-free – If you are freaked out by gelatin, you can finish your paté with melted butter. there is an alternative. You can melt additional butter and pour into a very thin layer on top of the chilled paté. Before the butter sets, sprinkle the top with a solid layer of finely chopped parsley. Refrigerate until set, at least an hour. This can be done a day or two ahead—in fact it’s better that way, as the flavors improve as it sits.

 

SALT OF THE EARTH A brief guide to the rainbow spectrum of salts around the world

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While it is certainly true that there is not much in the world of food that has been left undiscovered, there is plenty that can be rediscovered. Case in point: salt.   

I fell in love with salt on a family trip to Austria, where we visited the Salt Mine Berchtesgaden. There, we rode a tiny train into a mountain, slid down a banister (used by old-time miners before elevators were invented) and sailed on an internal mountain lake. It was super fun and sparked a new passion in me for this ubiquitous, but often overlooked, ingredient. 

The first thing I learned on my new quest for salty knowledge is that all salt is sea salt.  Some is collected from existing salt water, and some is mined from salt deposits left behind from ancient seas. Tall mountain ranges, desert salt flats and underground caverns can all contain these deposits, and they all carry unique characteristics. The age of the deposit, the compression, the surrounding mineral components, local flora and fauna and the method used to extract it all determine the salt’s flavor and texture.  

Most food enthusiasts are familiar with fleur de sel — the famous French sea salt. But there are hundreds of other salts from around the world, and they are all just as interesting, if not more so. But what do you do with these interesting salts? Lucky for you, I spent a few years answering that question. As a result, coming soon to a bookstore near you is Salt: The Essential Guide to Cooking with the Most Important Ingredient in Your Kitchen (St. Martin’s Griffin; available now for presale, and in stores this September). It is an exhaustive, encyclopedic reference book on the world’s artisan salts, with history, recipes and a salt tasting.  

Yes, you heard right — a salt tasting.

All salts are not the same. They each have unique qualities that enhance foods differently. Though usually cheap in their country of origin, artisan salts in artfully designed packaging can cost a pretty penny here. (Which is why I don’t suggest using fancy salt in your pasta water.) Instead, feature them as an essential flavor element, or finish a dish with a few exceptional grains. To figure this out, a salt tasting allows you to compare a few artisan salts side by side on simple foods that act as a neutral palate.  

The first step is to invite some friends over. Then, prepare some simple foods — sliced cucumbers, radishes, grilled steak, a baguette smeared with butter or a hunk of chocolate. Offer enough of these foods so that each guest can try each salt and compare its effects. You can even prepare a score sheet, so your guests can keep track of their preferences.

Of course, you will also need to choose the salts you want to feature. You can find a number of salts at most gourmet grocers, or you can shop online. (Try themeadow.com, or my favorite, kalustyans.com.) Start with just a few easy-to-find salts. (Take it from me — it’s easy to get carried away.) Some good starter salts might include:   

Fleur de Sel de Guerande

This is the French flower of the sea collected off the coast of Brittany. Seawater is channeled from the Atlantic Ocean, via canals, into shallow marshes where it is left to evaporate. As salt crystals begin to form on the surface of the ponds, they are raked off by hand. Because the aquatic environment varies from year to year, the salt does too. It is certainly the best known of the artisan salts. The same methods are used all over the world, with similar wooden tools, and just as much reverence and tradition. 

Maldon

Salt has been made in Essex, England, for thousands of years. We know this because archeologists have identified historic salt-making sites. Red mounds of earth (a.k.a. the red hills of Essex) were formed by layers of debris that included red clay vessels used in Iron Age salt production. The Maldon Crystal Salt Company, established in the late 1800s, is the only producer in the area now. Situated at the head of the Blackwater Estuary, the company gathers water only during salty spring tides. The water is filtered and boiled slowly to produce the wide pyramidal flakes coveted by the world’s chefs. Indeed, this is one of the first salts I fell in love with. 

Cyprus Sea Salt

Thanks to its two salt lakes, the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus has been a major salt exporter since the Middle Ages, when it was harvested from lakebeds in the dry summer months. Today, seawater is pumped into an industrial facility, where it’s gradually heated for two years, using solar evaporation to create the trademark pyramidal crystals.  

Black Diamond

This is a black version of Cyprus pyramid salt. It is infused with charcoal and is thought to have detoxifying benefits. Large black pyramidal crystals are very crunchy, yet dissolve quickly. The flavor is milder than its white counterpart, which makes it suitable for more applications. 

Himalayan Pink

This salt, from the mountains of Northern Pakistan, is a mined marine fossil salt. Estimated to be over 250 million years old, it formed naturally in an ancient sea, which was trapped and buried by shifting tectonic plates, gradually dehydrating into deep deposits. The modern mine tunnels a half-mile into the mountain range and spans more than 40 square miles. Because it has been buried for so long, it is considered some of the purest salt on earth. The color ranges from white to deep pink and comes in various textures and forms, including blocks, which are fun to use as serving plates. You can also heat them and cook on them, which is perfect when your dinner party needs a theatrical element.  

After you have tried these common artisan salts, you can graduate to some of the more obscure varieties, like blue Persian, black kamal namak, red Hawaiian alaea, smoked salt, one of the many Japanese shios, exotic bamboo salt, Incan sun salt or any of the hundreds of salts from hundreds of locations around the world. (I am currently enamored with Australian Murray River salt.) If there is, or ever was, a shoreline someplace, there is probably some artisan salt to be had. If you’re lucky, you will become similarly obsessed, and your cooking will jump to a new creative level.    

Easy Smoked Sausage

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Feel like showing off this summer?  This recipe is a great way to do it.  Don’t let the fact that it is “homemade sausage” intimidate you!  You can totally handle this!

Homemade sausage is great on a number of levels—you can control the quality of meat, the type of seasoning, and you get a tremendous sense of accomplishment. The smoke in this version comes from smoked salt (either store bought or homemade). If you are not a smoke fan, see the Variations for more easy sausage recipes.

Ingredients

2-3 pounds ground beef (75-80% lean)

¾ cup cold water

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons mustard seeds, toasted and ground

3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

¼ – ½ teaspoon red chili flake

2 tablespoons unrefined smoked salt

1 tablespoon Prague Powder #1 (This is potassium nitrate aka “curing salt”, aka “instacure”, aka”saltpeter” – it inhibits bacteria growth, and keeps the meat from turing gray – which is gross. Be careful, as this salt is only for curing, not seasoning–it’s toxic in large amounts.)

Method

  1. In a large bowl, or a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together meat and water until well emulsified. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  1. Roll the meat into 2-3 thin logs (sausage shaped) and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for 24 hours.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F, and line a roasting pan with a rack to elevate the meat above the drippings. Unwrap the sausage, set them on the rack, and bake for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 F.   Serve immediately as a warm sausage, or cool, re-wrap, and chill completely in the refrigerator for cold sliced sausage.

Variations

Game Meat – This same recipe can be made with any ground meat you have on had. It is particularly nice with venison. Be sure to check the internal temperature recommended for the type of meat you chose.

Andouille – Spicy Louisiana style sausage can be approximated by using ground pork (either all or part) and adding to the existing spices an additional teaspoon of freshly ground toasted cumin, paprika, dried thyme, dried oregano, and a pinch each of clove and allspice. Cook this to 160 F as well.

 

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad

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roasted-root-vegetables-from-slim-palateHere’s another great way to highlight your fancy salt!  It’s a nice variation on your typical Turkey-Day fare. (I get sick of the same ol’ same ol’.)  This dish is typically though of as a side dish, but I like to call it a salad, because I can easily eat just this for lunch–or breakfast for that matter.   I really like it at room temperature, slightly al dente, with a tangy dressing and a bit of a crunch. Of course, you can use it as a side dish if you want. It’s your kitchen.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash

1 sweet potato

1 red or yellow beet

1 parsnip

1 yellow onion

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try Bavarian rock salt, Portuguese sel gris, Peruvian pink, smoked salt, or a salt infused with rosemary or red wine

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 cup apple juice

½ cup toasted pecans, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.   Dice squash, potato, beet, parsnip, and onion into 1-2 inch chunks.   Quarter the onion, leaving the root in tact. Toss them all in olive oil and spread onto a baking sheet. Roast until tender and crisp on the outside. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt, then set aside at room temperature.
  1. Meanwhile heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until translucent, about 30-60 seconds. Stir in honey, vinegar, and apple juice. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the liquid is reduced to syrup consistency, about 3-5 minutes. Keep your eye on this. It will happen fast!
  1. Combine the glaze, roasted roots, and pecans in a large bowl and toss to coat. Season with more salt as needed and serve.

Variations

Bacon – If you’re a bacon fan, use two slices of raw diced bacon instead of butter here. Render the fat and crisp it up in the pan, then add the garlic, and continue with the recipe as written.   It’s great with pancetta too!

Cheesy – Garnish this dish with a crumble of feta, goat, or sharp blue cheese. The salty tang is a great contrast to the sweetness of these roots and the apple juice.

A Quick Primer on Buying and Using Fancy Salt

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All salts are not created equal, and given the sudden popularity of “artisanal” salts (which you can now find even at Safeway), home cooks are catching on. But what kind of fancy salt should you buy, and when should you use it?

Here are the basics:

All salt comes from the sea—either from our modern, liquid seas or ancient seas long ago evaporated and buried by tectonic plate shifts. The salt generally label sea salt has been evaporated slowly, either in shallow pools along sunny coastlines, or over a heat source, ranging from wood fires to thermal hot springs. Sea salt is light and fluffy in its unrefined state, and comes in a variety of crystal shapes, sizes, and colors. The flavor and texture vary depending on the local marine flora and fauna, shore or pool mineral contents, and the method of evaporation.

Rock salt, mountain salt, marine fossil salt, and salt block are all terms for inland mined salt. Buried in mountains under enormous pressure for millennia, rock salt is harder and often saltier than sea salt. Its color is determined by age, pressure, adjoining minerals, and method of extraction. It comes in large blocks that can be used to serve on or cook on, as well as in varying degrees of grind.

My suggestion (and the thing I subject all guests in my home to) is a salt tasting. Buy 2 or 3 different salts, and try them side by side on a neutral food, like a cucumber slice, or bread and (unsalted) butter. You will be astonished at the complexity of each. If you find that exciting, graduate to a full-on salt-tasting party. Offer several different salts, and offer lots of salt-friendly foods—plain grilled steak, melon, boiled new potatoes, mild cheese, dark chocolate, vanilla ice cream. (Don’t forget big pitchers of water!). You can even provide your guests with a score sheet to record their thoughts and preferences. (I have provided an example for this in my book!)

Any fancy salt you come across is ripe for a tasting, but here is my favorite tasting assortment:

Black Diamond Sea Salt, Cyprus

The Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus has been a major salt exporter since the Middle Ages. Salt was harvested from the lakebeds that dried up in the summer. After World War II the island became a hub for travel between the Middle East and Europe, and an airport long-term parking lot replaced much of the lakebed. Today, seawater is pumped into industrial facilities that use the sun to gradually evaporate the water over a 2-year period, creating the trademark pyramidal crystals. This black version is infused with charcoal, and is thought to have detoxifying benefits. Black Diamond’s huge crystals are very crunchy, but dissolve quickly. The flavor is more mild than its white counterpart, which makes it suitable for more applications. Try it on vanilla ice cream, or better yet, forego the cherry and sprinkle it over your whipped-cream-topped sundae.

Murray River Salt, Australia

This salt comes from an underground briny spring in New South Wales. Water flows down from the Australian Alps into the Murray-Darling Basin, where low rainfall and high heat combine to concentrate the groundwater into an underground brine. The salt water is pumped and channeled into solar evaporation pools where it sits throughout the summer. It has an apricot color that comes from a specific carotene-rich, salt-tolerant river algea. It is extremely light and fluffy, and dissolves fast, but it still has a nice crunch. I love it as a finishing salt on simple vegetables and salads.

Arabian Fleur de Sel, Pakistan

Harvested from the Arabian Seas (not by Arabian Salt makers), it is named fleur de sel because it is made using the same method as the more famous French fleur de sel. Seawater is channeled from the sea into shallow marshes where it is left to evaporate. As salt crystals begin to form on the surface of the ponds, they are raked off by hand with traditional wooden tools. But unlike the French version, this salt more closely resembles Bali pyramid salt. In the hot, windy desert the water evaporates quick to form large pyramid crystals that are crunchy, but light. It is my preferred salt for avocado toast.

Maldon, Essex, England

Salt was made in Essex well before the Romans arrived in 300 BC. We know this because archeologists have identified the historic Red Hills of Essex, which contain red clay vessels used to evaporate seawater during the Iron Age. The Maldon Company was established in the late 1800’s at the head of the Blackwater Estuary. Water is gathered during spring tides, when low rainfall means high salinity. The water is filtered and boiled slowly to produce wide pyramidal flakes coveted by the world’s chefs. Indeed, this is one of the first salts I fell in love with. It compliments everything, and is beautiful to boot. I love it best on a well-grilled, very rare New York Strip.

Sal de Maras, Peru

This pink hued salt has been extracted from underground saline springs of the Andes since the time of the Incas. The spring is nestled in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, between Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Water trickles thru channels into thousands of terraced pools. (I highly recommend a Google image search—it is impressive.) Because the site is far away from civilization, there is little pollution, adding to the purity of this salt. It is also sometimes called Peruvian Pink and Incan Sun Salt. Try it on roasted or fried potatoes.

 

 

 

 

Salt Crust Fish

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Your mom called.  She said she’d like my SALT book for Mother’s day.  She also wants you to make this for her on Sunday.

This recipe’s roots are in ancient Silk Road extravagance. Probably originating in the Mediterranean salt producing areas, it spread as far as China. You can salt-crust anything, (chicken was an early Chinese variation), but I like fish the best. Typically seen in the magazines with salmon, I use it on whatever fish looks fresh at the market.

Ingredients

1 3-pound whole fish (or the equivalent), such as salmon, trout, snapper, breem, or sea bass (cleaned and scaled)

1 lemon sliced into rounds

1 large bunch fresh thyme

2 large egg whites

5 cups unrefined salt – use something that is not too expensive, as you’ll need a lot. I usually pick up a big bag of coarse Korean Sea Salt from my local Asian market (99 Ranch!)

Good Quality olive oil, for serving

Lemon Wedges, for serving

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F. Wash and dry fish. Open the cavity, fill it with the lemon slices and thyme sprigs, and close it back up and set aside.
  1. In a large bowl whip the egg whites to a light froth (no peaks necessary- just break up the albumen) then fold in salt. The mixture should resemble wet sand. Results may vary with salt type, so add a little water or more salt as necessary.
  1. Pat out the salt in the center of an ovenproof baking platter, about a half-inch thick, and slightly larger than your fish. Place the prepared fish on top, and pack the rest of the salt around and on top, completely sealing in the fish. (Some chefs like to leave the head and tail exposed, but I prefer to sculpt my salt into a fish face.) Place the pan into the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. The internal temperature for fish varies, and is a matter of personal preference. But in general, aim for around 130° F.
  1. Remove the fish from the oven and cool slightly, then present it at the table, where you can crack open the salt crust with a whack of a spoon. The salt comes off easily, exposing a perfectly cooked whole fish, which can then be divided up among your guests. Serve with simple accompaniment of good olive oil and lemon wedges.

Variations

Citrus Fish – Orange, grapefruit, and lime make a nice filling, separately, or together. For a real citrus punch, layer the outside of the fish with citrus slices as well.

Herbs – Thyme is certainly not your only option. Try fresh lavender, cilantro, sage, mint—anything goes. And consider adding a spice blend, or flavorful condiment to the cavity, like za’atar, furikake, curry, harrisa, or pesto.

Oysters with Mignonette Sauce

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oysters

This is my personal favorite way to eat oysters. The name comes from the OG method of peppercorn crushing. It is done with brute strength, pressing down on whole peppercorns with the bottom of a sauté pan. Forget cocktail sauce. This simple, spicy, acidic concoction is, for me, the perfect counterpoint to briny shellfish. I like to make my sauce a few hours ahead, to give the flavors a chance to macerate.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

½ teaspoon pink peppercorns

1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try Japanese shio, bamboo, flor de sal, something from the American Northwest or Northeast, a smoked salt, or a salt infused with peppercorns, citrus, herbs, fennel, shallots, or red wine.

1 shallot, minced

1 cup good quality red wine vinegar

1 dozen fresh oysters (or more—more is better), shucked, on the half shell

Method

  1. Place peppercorns (black and pink) and salt on a cutting board. Hold a small sauté pan firmly, one hand on the handle, the other on the rim. Press in s a rolling motion over the peppercorns, crushing them roughly. Repeat until all peppercorns are cracked.
  1. Combine peppercorns, salt, shallots, and vinegar in a small a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and set aside to steep and macerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  1. Shuck the oysters, being careful to keep all the liquid (a.k.a. oyster liquor) in the bottom half of the shell. Nestle shucked oysters into a plate of crushed ice. Keep cold until service. Present shucked oysters with a ramekin of mignonette sauce and a small spoon.   Eat oysters with a generous spoonful of mignonette sauce on top of each one.

Tuna Jerky

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jerkies

This is a fantastic cocktail food. And, of course, because it’s jerky, it’s good on the trail. (Especially if your trail is in Hawaii.) If you are tuna free, this works with any good meaty fish.

Ingredients

2 pounds tuna, snapper, trout, bass, or other firm-fleshed fish, cut into strips about ¼ inch thick

2 cups pineapple, finely chopped (or canned crushed pineapple with the juice)

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 teaspoon unrefined salt—try a Hawaiian salt, like Alaea or Black Lava, Japanese shio, Arabian Fleur de Sel, a smoked salt, or a salt infused with roasted garlic, dashi, seaweed, sesame, Szechuan peppercorns, or chile

Method

  1. Toss all ingredients, toss to coat fish, and refrigerate overnight ( at least 12 hours).
  1. Place a wire rack onto a baking sheet, and coat it well with pan spray. Drain off the marinade and arrange the fish on the rack. Cook at 150° F for 2 hours, then turn the temperature down to 130° F (or open the oven door) and continue cooking for another 2-4 hours, until the fish is dry, but not crisp. They should crack when bent, but should not break easily. Cool completely, then store airtight in the refrigerator.

Variations

Dehydrator and Smoker—This jerky dries better in a dehydrator, and has more flavor when made in a smoker. If you have either of those contraptions, by all means, go for it. Follow the manufacture’s instructions, and use the same guidelines for temperature and doneness.

Commercial sauces – The addition of commercial teriyaki or BBQ sauce into your marinade will certainly work. Most contain a lot of sugar, so consider omitting the brown sugar from the recipe.

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