Saturday, February 28, 2009

TGRWT #15: Dark Chocolate & Smoked Salmon

Nothing celebrates the month of love like smoked salmon!

But, before we get to my monthly stomach turning obsession, you may have noticed that instead of near daily posting, I've only posted a few times this month. What happened? How could (as Tri2Cook refers to me) the chef who never sleeps not have time to post on his beloved blog? Well, I committed to expanding to hot dinners to go in February. We needed it to expand our business, and the town was clamoring for it since we're still the only freshly prepared food in town. That's meant very long days, and this chef really needs his sleep at this point. But back to the TGRWT!

The MexMix blog is the host of this month's challenge featuring the odd combination of dark chocolate and smoked salmon. Now, owning a gourmet store never makes these easy. My first thoughts were, "What percentage of chocolate," "Single origin or blend," "Can I do a 100% cocoa," and "Lox or dry style salmon?" So many questions, too many options. Just give me some direction dammit!

But then I took a deep breath and procrastinated until the very last

I knew that I wanted a hot chocolate with marshmallow, but I wasn't sure if I should take the easy road of a sweet marshmallow, or if I could create a savory version. I did both.

The sweet version was a standard recipe except I infused lox style salmon into the water before boiling it with palm sugar. I also added maple syrup instead of vanilla extract.

The savory version is a bit more interesting. Thanks to an eGer, I used an el Bulli recipe for my template:

500g Milk
18g Gelatin leaf, softened
40g Salmon oil

I took a chunk of dry style smoked salmon - a good oily piece, and heated it in the 40g of canola oil. Once warm, I covered and let steep off the heat for an hour. Next I chilled 400g milk until almost frozen. I then added the softened gelatin to the remaining 100g milk and heated in a sauce pan over low flame. In my mixer, I then whipped the gelatin milk mixture for 30 seconds, then added all of the cold milk at once, whipping for another 3 minutes. At the end of the 3 minutes, I poured the oil, which I had strained out the salmon chunks and chilled slightly. Another 30 seconds of whipping and then spread, chilled and cut.

The hot chocolate was a 72% Guittard couveture melted in boiling water (I didn't want a dairy taste in the drink) until it was a thick water drink. I seasoned with a hint of cinnamon, clove and stirred with a lavender branch. The drink was outstanding by itself and was inspired by Kakawa in Sante Fe.

So how was the salmon/chocolate combination? The sweet version was excellent. I served it to a number of my customers to get their response and all of them really liked the combination...I didn't tell them what it was before they tried it. The salmon taste lingered on the back of the tongue for quite some time. The savory version was good, but the salmon didn't infuse quite enough to have an impact. If I re-did this, I would probably try a vacuum infusion of the salmon and let it sit for a good long time.

Once again, TGRWT broke barriers and proved that if you turn off your preconceptions, you might just find something really enjoyable.


Papin said...

What a cool idea. If you just have the sweet version marshmallow, can you taste the salmon? How sweet did you make the marshmallows? Does it taste like the candied salmon sold in some gourmet stores?

Gfron1 said...

I tasted the salmon more strongly in the sweet version but I think that's due to how I infused the flavors. For the sweet, I infused by boiling the water with the salmon, and in the savory I infused through an oil, which while I should have been stronger, was more muted by the oil taste. And as far as how sweet-it was sweet. I used a very traditional vanilla marshmallow recipe so it was all sugar and gelatin.