Last month, our favorite chef, Ro Howe—owner of Barraud Caterers in New York City and a veteran contributor to Women’s Voices for Change—offered instructions for a no-stove-needed summer dish. Here’s another in her series of no-cook recipes to serve in swelter-weather.
I gained independence as a chef when I freed myself from the tyranny of “protein and two veg” on the plate. Now I am more free to explore variances of flavor, texture, shape, and structure in the dishes I create—more alert to the distinctive qualities of ingredients, experimenting with them to enhance their innate ability to speak to us through their nature. If I listen . . . the ingredients speak to me.
For this dish, instead of using poached salmon, potato, and green beans, I utilized the silky texture of raw, wild salmon, with its muscle structure and deeply oiled cells; and I bathed it with a wash of salt, sugar, and dry sherry to give the salmon enough flexible rigidity to make it sliceable.
I picked up the sweetness and reflected it with a tomato-sherry gelée. Salmon is frequently paired with cream cheese, which is too dense for this dish—it’s as jarring as a trumpet blast during the strains of a violin solo. I recast the cream cheese into a gentle custard.
Texture was provided by fresh apple and baked, crisped curry-oil-brushed apple slices. This is the sneak-surprise to challenge the sweetness, the feather in the hat, the smile when you “get it”!
If you listen . . . you will understand too.
The dish I experimented with, pictured above, is dry sherry–cured gravlax with curried apple, tomato-sherry gelée, and sour cream custard. I offer you a simplified version of this recipe for you to try for yourself. No heat or “cooking” is involved, which is perfect for the heat-misery “dome” we are under at the moment in New York!
Dry Sherry–Cured Gravlax
Yield: 8 to 10 appetizer portions
Equipment: Measuring cups and spoons, small palate knife, plastic wrap, medium bowls, two oblong fish tubs or roasting pans.
1 side skin-off salmon filet, preferably wild, about two pounds
1 C dry sherry
½ C sherry vinegar
1 C kosher salt
1 tablespoon pimentón dulce
½ C sugar
1 loaf whole grain bread
1 jar grain mustard
Salad of choice
Combine sherry and sherry vinegar.
Combine salt, pimentón, and sugar.
Line a large plastic oblong fish tub or roasting pan with plastic wrap, twice the length of the tub or pan.
Gently scrape the flesh of both sides of the fish, removing any loose scales with a small palette knife or the back of table knife.
Place salmon on plastic. Massage both sides gently with sherry-vinegar mixture.
Scatter half the salt mixture evenly on one side of salmon. Press into flesh. Carefully turn fish over and repeat.
Cover the salmon completely with the plastic wrap. Place another tub or pan on top. Place some heavy items in it to weight the salmon.
Refrigerate for two and a half to three days, turning salmon over once and draining liquid once after a day and a half.
Drain collected liquid. Scrape residue salt off both sides of salmon till completely clean. Slice salmon thinly and lay overlapping on a plastic lined sheet tray. Cover with another plastic sheet for the next layer. Store, covered, with plastic wrap and refrigerate till ready for service.
Serve with bread and grain mustard and salad of your choice.