Last weekend I took home an incredible eight-pound wild steelhead trout caught by the local Quinault Indian tribe on the Quinault River and was looking for inspiration in how to cook it. It was a rather large fish for my family of three, so I decided to try a few variations. I combed through old cookbooks, new cookbooks, and deep into the internet before deciding on these three dishes. The first and the subject of today was a classic French preparation usually made with sole called ‘Wild Steelhead Trout à la Dugléré’.
For decades, I have enjoyed the highly addictive salt and pepper shrimp at Chicago’s Moon Palace. For the uninitiated, salt and pepper is a style of Chinese cooking where the food is crispily fried, tossed in a spice mixture, then combined with sauteed garlic, onion, ginger, and hot peppers. It’s a preparation I long and crave for like some people do sweets. There’s something absolutely magical about the combination of sharp, pungent, and salty flavors with crunchy textures. And if you are into that, then Moon Palace is the place to be. Their menu boasts of at least ten different salt and pepper preparations to choose ranging from tofu, squid to my second all-time favorite, salt and pepper pork chops.
Where do the world’s best truffles come from? For the past century or more, the stock response has been Périgord (France) for black ones and Piedmont (Italy) for the rarer white variety. It wasn’t always so. In the Ancient World, these sources were unknown and the Roman poet Juvenal declared “Libyans – unyolk your cattle, keep your harvests but send us your truffles”.
Libyan truffles don’t feature any longer on our menus, but those from the New World increasingly do. For the past three years, a remote farm in Western Australia has produced black truffles that renowned chefs consider equal or even superior to the best Europe can offer. They are exactly the same species – the tuber melanosporum – and originated from tree roots inoculated with the Périgord variety.
Otherwise known as saltwort or friar’s beard – or “land seaweed”, in Japan – agretti can cause mini stampedes in the markets of Umbria and Lazio as Italians dash to get hold of bundles of fleshy, needle-shaped leaves – traditionally served with oil and lemon – in its short early-summer seasonal window. Now it is migrating north, and growing awareness of the plant is provoking a similar battle to obtain seed to cultivate on British soil.
In Nice, they often make a green gnocchi (Pate Nicoise) that simmers in the broth for the last 30 minutes. This year I tried something new, I made a classic Pate Nicoise, using wild ramps in place of the more traditional Swiss chard, and the results were stunning.
n 2017, the United States Forest Service spent close to $2.5 billion fighting and containing wildfires. It was the most expensive year on record. Governors in Montana, Oregon, and California declared states of emergency. Blazes cost the state of California alone nearly $700 million. By the end of the year, more than 71,000 fires had been recorded and 10 million acres leveled nationwide.
It was a historic, destructive season. Some say the worst ever.
But after all the tallying, the requests for federal aid, the agricultural losses, the hundreds and hundreds of homes and businesses left in need of rebuilding, comes something else—something sort of miraculous. Mother Nature is as swift in replenishment as she is in annihilation: When a wildfire departs, a treasure rises, literally, from its ashes. Morel mushrooms.
The ritual of eating a traditional bouillabaisse today is always the same. First we place two to three slices of oven-toasted French bread which have been rubbed with garlic in the bottom of our soup plates; then we top each slice with freshly grated Gruyere or Cantal cheese and top it with a dab of rouille. Then and only then do we ladle in the steaming hot aromatic fish bouillon. One or two more plates of this and – with the necessary refurbishments of garlic bread, cheese and rouille – we can can turn our attention to the fish… – Robert Carrier