Thursday, April 19, 2012

Modena Balsamic Salmon Steak a la Griglia with Moroccan Spice Couscous

Modena Balsamic Vinegar Marinated Grilled Salmon with Moroccan Spice Couscous!  North African style cuisine!
     Many people talk about the influences of Arabic cuisine in Italian cuisine and Spanish cuisine.  As you know, what comes around, goes around!  Many countries from foreign lands have attempted to colonize and occupy Egypt and North Africa.  The French and Italians both have occupied North Africa in the past.  The Italians started their North African occupation in the early 1900's.  Italian occupation of North Africa went on through several war years into the 1940's.  
     With that much time in a foreign land, it was inevitable that the influences of Italian cooking became part of the local culture's cuisine.  Unleavened bread was served along with yeast leavened Italian bread.  Pasta became a popular meal for the native residents of North Africa.  Besciamella sauce became part of Egyptian moussaka.   North African ingredients also found their way into the food that the occupying Italians cooked.  From a food standpoint, the ingredients of North Africa cuisine and Italian cuisine went well together.
     Couscous can be a grain like millet, or it can be made like a pasta.  Couscous is not fragile like many Italian pastas and travelers of the desert find it easier to carry while traveling by camel.  Couscous is also part of Bedouin cuisine.  Couscous became part of the occupying army's diets, because of the same durability reasons.  Italian chefs do really prefer their own traditional pastas over couscous, but in modern war time, just like Roman times, armies had to make use of any available resources or perish.
     Even though ingredients from Italy were scarce at times during the Italian occupation of North Africa, Italians still used traditional Italian cooking techniques to prepare their food.  A la griglia is the Italian term for grill cooking.  Grill cooking is a common cooking method in Italy.  North African people and Arabic people prefer grill or open flame cooking in the desert.  You might think that with both the Italians and Arabs occupying the same areas of North Africa, that there was some great grill and open flame cooking going on.  However, the two nations were seriously at odds.  Even so, there was some cross cultural cuisine adaptations going on.  
     The entree creation for tonights recipe is really just an Italian style grilled salmon steak over Moroccan style couscous.  Salmon are not native to Italian waters, but Italians are very health conscious. Salmon is part of the regular diet of many modern Italians that realize the importance of omega 3 fatty acids.  Salmon is available worldwide!  
     In modern times, any food can be available anywhere!  Las Vegas is the prime example of that statement.  A city in the middle of the Mojave desert gets lobster flown in from Maine daily, sushi grade fish flown in from Japan within 24 hours of being caught and fresh mediterranean seafood flown in from Greece daily.  All produce and dairy products are trucked or flown in.  What is Las Vegas?  The number one food destination in the world!  Las Vegas also has more Michelin star rated restaurants than any other city in the world.  We aim to please!
     The best balsamic vinegar comes from the home of balsamic vinegar, Modena Italy.  Modena balsamic vinegar has a superior flavor profile.  Balsamic vinegar from Modena italy is available worldwide!

     Modena Balsamic Salmon Steak Preparation:
     Place 1 1/2 tablespoon of Modena balsamic vinegar into a container.
     Add 2 tablespoons of dry white wine.
     Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 1 squeeze of lemon juice.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 3 pinches of rosemary.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 crushed garlic clove.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced onion.
     Add 1 ounce of water.
     Stir the marinade ingredients together.
     Place a 6 to 8 ounce salmon steak in the marinade.  (Trim the belly meat sections off of the steak and use them for the ceviche recipe that I posted last week or a recipe of your choice!)
     Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Flip the salmon in the marinade occasionally.

     Moroccan Couscous Recipe:
     Boil 2 cups of water in a small sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced onion.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 1 pinch of saffron.
     Add 1 small pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1 small pinch of mace.
     Add 1 very small pinch of clove.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add 2 pinches of coriander.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of paprika.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground fennel.
     Add 3/4 cup of small fine couscous.
     Stir and boil, till most of the liquid becomes absorbed by the couscous.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Add 1 small squeeze of lime.
     Place a lid over the couscous pot.
     Keep the couscous warm.
     Modena Balsamic Salmon Steak a la Griglia with Moroccan Spice Couscous:
     Heat a char grill or cast iron grill to medium/medium high heat.
     Brush the grill with vegetable oil.
     Remove the salmon steak from the marinade and place it on the grill.
     Grill each side of the salmon steak, so the grill marks are in a cross check pattern.
     Finish cooking the salmon away from the direct flame on the grill or finish cooking the salmon steak in a 350 degree oven.
     After the salmon is fully cooked, set it aside to rest for one minute.
     Use a ring mold to place the Moroccan couscous on the middle of a plate.
     Carefully place the grilled Modena balsamic salmon steak on top of the couscous.
     Sprinkle a little bit of chopped Italian parsley on the plate.
     Sprinkle a little bit of small chopped red bell pepper on the plate.
     Garnish the salmon with a slice of lime.
     Serve with a vegetable of your choice on the side.

     Simple and delicious!  Healthy too!  The flavor of the Moroccan couscous is complex.  The flavor of the Modena balsamic salmon steak is complex.  The two flavors are complex in completely different ways, yet the flavors go well together!  Yum!  Ciao baby!  ...  Shawna       

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