Huckleberry Sockeye Lox and Dungeness Crab Salad with Cucumber Wrap

Sunday, September 29, 2013


This lox recipe is one which I have developed over several years. It has a mild saltiness, a bit of sweetness, and is versatile in that it can be served as is, or added as an additional component to another dish. The lox can also be smoked if you wish, or served as is without smoking. In the picture, I served it as an appetizer in the restaurant. But I first served this dish as an individual amuse bouche for the 2013 Washington Wine & Food Show. We made about 2,500 of these little hummers! It took us 10 solid man hours just to slice the salmon! (My crew hated me.) But, we received HUGE accolades at the event, rave reviews, with people coming over saying, “I was told I had to come try your dish!”, or, “Is it ok to have thirds?” Now my staff was all smiles, knowing that all our work had paid off.

For the Huckleberry Sockeye Lox


1 2 lb Side Thawed, previously frozen Sockeye Salmon, skin-off, pin bones removed

10 Tbl Light Brown Sugar
3 Tbl Kosher Salt
1 Tbl Orange Peel
2 Tbl Fresh Lemon Zest
4 Tbl Granulated Sugar
2 Tbl Fresh Tarragon Leaves
2 Tbl Fresh Dill, chopped
2 Cups Huckleberries, crushed (or Blackberries)


1) Trim the salmon of excess fat. Pat dry.
2) Cut 2 pieces of aluminum foil which are about 6” longer than the salmon fillet.
3) Combine the sugars, salt, and lemon zest. Mix well. Divide the mixture in half. Reserve.
4) Place the salmon in the center of one of the sheets of foil.
5) You will apply half of the ingredients to each side of the fillet:

  • Evenly sprinkle the top of the fillet with half of the tarragon and dill.Evenly sprinkle with half of the orange peel, lemon zest, sugar, and salt mixture.Place second piece of foil over all and carefully turn the salmon over. Remove the top piece of foil and repeat the above process of adding the ingredients on this side of the salmon. Replace foil and fold it multiple times on all sides so as to form a good seal.
  • For day one place on a flat pan (such as a cookie sheet) with at least a ½” raised edge and store in refrigerator overnight.
  • On day two place another flat pan on top of the salmon and add about 7 lbs of weight on top of it. Return to the refrigerator overnight.
  • On day three drain any liquid from the bottom pan, flip the salmon over, cover with the pan and weights, and return to the refrigerator overnight again.
  • On day four, remove the weights and the foil. Gently scrape the huckleberries and herbs from the fillet. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels.
  • Slice thinly and serve!

Store in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.

Notes: Because this is an uncooked product you should use a quality, frozen (and thawed) side of salmon so as to eliminate any possible danger from parasites.


For the Dungeness Crab Salad


½ Cup Fresh Corn, cut from cob, roasted, cooled
12 Oz Dungeness Crab meat, lightly pressed but not squeezed
12 Oz Red Crab meat, lightly pressed but not squeezed
4 Tbl Shallot, minced
2 Tbl Fresh Chives, minced
1 Tbl Parsley, chopped
1 ½ Tbl Fresh Tarragon, chopped
3 Tbl Red Bell Pepper, brunoise
3 Tbl Yellow Bell Pepper, brunoise
2 Tsp Dijon
3 Tbl Panko
6 Tbl Apple Bacon, cooked, cooled, 1/4″ cut
¾ Cup Mayo
Pinch Sea Salt
Pinch Cayenne


Lightly press some of the excess liquid from the crab meats, but do not squeeze it all out. Combine all the ingredients and gently fold together. Adjust consistency with a little more mayo (to loosen) or panko (to tighten) as needed. Chill.


For the Cucumber Wrap


About 5 ea. English Cucumbers, ends trimmed


Using a mandolin, thinly shave the cucumber into long, thin ribbons. Do not use the first few ribbons or the seeded section of the cucumber. You should be able to cut each ribbon in half and make 2 separate crab salad rolls from each ribbon. Form the crab salad into a ball about 1 oz, then roll into a cylindrical shape. Place on a cucumber ribbon, roll, set aside until service. You should have enough cucumber ribbon to go about 1.5 times around the filling to ensure that it will hold.

At service, top each roll with a slice of Huckleberry Los. Add fried taro root for “crunch”. I used Hearts of Fire leaves as a garnish, which I believe are a type of sorrel because they have a nice lemony flavor which accents the dish nicely. And I laid down a line of lemon aioli under the rolls in order to add a visual “anchor” to the presentation and to give the dish a little extra “zip” of citrus.

And finally, Time to Munch!

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Sous Vide New York Steaks

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sous-Vide-Supreme-Chef.jpgGot my new Sous Vide Supreme Chef and VacMaster VP-112 the other day and have been playing with it at work ever since! I’m hoping to be able to do Sockeye Salmon to order, cooked to 115° within 13 minutes and served within 15 minutes of getting the order. In the Pacific Northwest we love our Salmon cooked medium-rare, and doing it sous vide makes the flesh so delicate it melts like butter in your mouth! I’ll give details of my experiments below.

I’m also toying with the idea of doing our fabulous 14 oz Double “R” Ranch New York steak using the sous vide process. It would guarantee that the steaks were perfectly cooked to whatever temperature we determine for rare, medium-rare, etc. Of course, this would not eliminate steaks being returned to the kitchen…what the guest thinks is a medium-rare and what we know to be a medium-rare are not always the same thing (makes me want to play Gorden Ramsey with the customers sometimes!). But it would greatly reduce errors by cooks either over-cooking or under-cooking the steaks. I’ll share my lessons so far below.11

Salmon Sous Vide


OK, changing gears back to Salmon! We are a seafood restaurant so I tried Salmon first. The goal was to cook the Salmon to an internal temp of 115° within 14 minutes in order to meet our self-imposed 15 minute ticket time for entrees. I took our 7 oz portions of Sockeye and cut it on a severe bias into 3 medallions no more than 1/4″ thick. Then I seasoned them as normal, placed them in the bags with some extra-virgin olive oil, fresh sprig of tarragon, and squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and vac-sealed them using the VacMaster VP-112. The vac-seal process takes about 35-45 seconds, but is very simple.

Next, I placed the fish into the sous vide machine set to my desired temp of 115° and hoped that after 14 minutes it would reach an internal temp of 115°. What happened?…Failure!! It was at 101° which meant I’d have to increase ticket times (not good), or go back to the drawing board. So, back to the drawing board I went! Next, I tried setting the machine to 125° and did the same process. This time…almost success!! The Salmon was actually at 120° after 14 minutes. So I learned that achieving a 15 minute ticket time with 1/4″ medallions is possible…just need to fine-tune the timing to hit the 115° cooked mark.

Sous-Vide-Salmon-in-bag.jpgThe next challenge to overcome with the Salmon during dinner service is this: I’ll have multiple orders rung in over the span of 15 minutes, meaning that all night long we will have multiple Salmon cooking in the machine, all with different time frames. As each new order comes into the kitchen, I could theoretically have 15 different orders all space one minute apart! How the hell do I keep track of this mess, especially when dinner service is for 6-7 hours long?! Solution (thanks Chef John Jadamec): add a second digital clock set 14 minutes fast. Explanation: we currently use a digital clock to keep tickets on a 15 minute ticket time. Each ticket is automatically time stamped when we receive it, and we pace tickets so they “hit the window” after 15 minutes. By adding a second clock which is set 14 fast (the time it takes to cook our sous vide Salmon to 114°), it makes it possible for the Wheelman (Expeditor…the guy/gal calling the Wheel/tickets) to simply look at the pull time for the Salmon, write it on the vacuum packed bag, fire it into the sous vide machine, and know which Salmon to pull at exactly what time. This way multiple orders can be working with no confusion about what gets pulled when.

New York Steak Sous Vide



Preparing the New York sous vide is definitely more challenging, especially from a restaurant perspective. It takes approximately one hour to cook a 1″ thick steak to rare, medium-rare, and medium. Are you willing to wait an hour for your steak? That has epic failure written all over it. And since we can sell up to 45 NY’s in a night, to make this process work using the sous vide method means we’ll have to prep today for what we’ll need tomorrow. And I’ll have to get the re-therm process to work with-in about a 15 minute ticket time for dinner service.

So with this challenge to overcome, I tried two variations of NY. I wanted to know if a pre-seared steak or a raw steak worked better. The first steak I seasoned as normal, charred on the grill blue-rare, and chilled to 34°. The second, I seasoned as normal and left raw. Both were then vacuum-sealed and cooked sous vide to 125° (our medium). I then put them into an ice bath (still in their bags) to chill to 34°. The next day I re-thermed them as follows: the charred steak I placed in a 325° convection oven (low fan setting) until it reached 115° (about 10 minutes) and let the carry-over heat finish it out to 125°. The raw steak we seared in the Montegue broiler (top and bottom heat) for about 9 minutes. We let them rest then carved them up. We liked the raw-then-char preparation better because it had a more smoky, charred, grill flavor than the one we pre-seared then finished in the oven.

Knowing that the raw, un-seared version worked better, today we did our second test. I had two steaks, both raw, seasoned, vacuum sealed, and cooked sous vide then charred to finish. One was sous vide to rare 105°, the other to medium-rare 115°. Both were immediately chilled in their bags to 34° (a safety step for HAACP). I then used the Montegue broiler (top and bottom intense heat) and cooked the rare steak to 90° (about 5 minutes) and the medium-rare to 100° (about 7 minutes), let both rest for 3 minutes, and found that both rested out to their ideal temps of 105° and 115°…success!!

Sous Vide NY Steaks sliced
Rare is on the left, medium-rare on the right

Additional restaurant service challenges to overcome: since it takes about an hour to cook these puppies, ideally I would have at least 3 machines, one for cooking each temperature of steak (R, MR, M). I still have to see how many I can cook at once in the Sous Vide Supreme Chef machine… I think 10-14, but the cooking time will probably increase. Another HUGE, MONSTROUS, obstacle…if I am going to cook steaks for about an hour in a vacuum sealed bag, then chill them, and then re-thermalize them to order, I will probably have to get an approved HAACP plan by the local health department to verify that I am using/applying appropriate health and safety procedures. ?@#&%*! A necessary trip through purgatory…but holy crap what a pain in the a__ to accomplish! I heard that it took Chef Jason Wilson of Seattle’s Crush 90 hours to complete his! Not something I’m looking forward to, although I have already started the process.

As a note, here are our steak temps: rare 105° (60 minutes), medium-rare 115° (70 minutes), medium 125° (80 minutes), medium-well (not going to do MW sous vide), well-done (WTF?! Sorry if you like your steak this way, but I STRONGLY disagree. However, as a paying customer, if you want to put an automatic transmission in your Lamborghini I’ll do it for you.)


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Shigoku Oysters with Seafood Mary Shaved Ice

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Shigoku Oysters with Seafood Mary Shaved Ice

Oysters_Seafood_Mary_Granita[1].jpgOyster purists will argue that raw oysters should be consumed as is, with no embellishment, with the possible exception of a squeeze fresh lemon! But for many of us the addition of some kind of sauce or condiment adds to the experience, making slurping oysters more fun and pleasurable. This recipe is a “twist” on the traditional cocktail sauce, with added fresh horseradish and lime juice to add a little “zip” to any oyster on the half shell. I’ve called this a Seafood Mary Sauce and it is actually a Granita, which is a preparation which is turned into shaved ice.

Shigoku Oysters are an elegant, deep cupped oyster with gorgeous black and gold shells. They are cultivated by using a unique method which tumbles the shells naturally with the rise & fall of the tides. They are placed in narrow, rectangular mesh cages which are attached to a horizontal line on one end, and have floats at the opposite end. Thus, as the tides ebb and flow the floats cause the cages to rise or fall, resulting in the gentle tumbling of the oysters in the cage. This tumbling chips the edges of the shell causing the oyster to grow a deeper cup rather than a broader or longer shell. It also creates very uniformly shaped, manicured shells. Shigokus have a briny bite, a clean, sweet flavor with a hint of cucumber and melon finish.

In the center of the dish I made an “ice sculpture” by freezing some pink peppercorns and tarragon in a rectangular mold. Its so easy to do and adds a cool presentation piece. Add about half the amount of water you need for the thickness you want (mine is about 1/2″ thick). Freeze it. Add about 1 or 2 tsp of water, then add your garnishes (pink peppercorns, etc). Freeze. Add remaining water to the thickness you want the sculpture to be. This process puts the garnishes “inside” the ice.


2 cups V-8 juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Tabasco
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
9 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh horseradish, micro-planed
Pinch sea salt


Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a broad, shallow pan (such as a 2″ half pan, or a cake pane) and place in the freezer. As it starts to freeze, use a fork to drag through the forming crystals to break them up into shaved ice. Repeat this process about every 5-10 minutes until all of the mixture has frozen and been shaved into tiny crystals. The purpose of the process is to keep it from freezing into a solid block of ice. The resulting small crystals should have the consistency of a snow cone.

At service, use a brush to scrub the oyster shells clean. Carefully shuck them, being sure to preserve the precious liquor (the liquid inside of the oyster shell). There are a variety of ways to present them. You can serve them on crushed ice, rock salt, over mixed greens (spring mix), or any other thing that will keep the oysters level. At the last moment, add about 1 teaspoon of the granita on top of each oyster and serve immediately because the granite will melt quickly.

Slurp away!


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