Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Layered Puree Salads with Smoked Salmon

A modern salad that has a nice French flavor!

     I put some effort into creating a unique puree salad combined flavor that did not taste like gazpacho.  My goal was to create a French flavor instead of a gazpacho flavor.  It seems like every top chef that makes a puree salad only achieves a gazpacho flavor.  To me, that is a limited thinking process for a French chef, especially since gazpacho originated in Andalusia.  It was important to create four salad purees that would go nicely with salmon and not taste like a gazpacho.  I did achieve the flavor goal!
     The layering of my puree salad was not perfectly even layers, because I had the old colored sand in a glass art in mind.  Layered sand colors in a glass was a popular art form many years ago.  A thin stick was run between the glass and the sand to create patterns.
     Each puree is not as simple as the recipe title makes them sound.  Each puree was created like pieces of a puzzle that were waiting to be combined to create a peak flavor.  
     The layers of puree salads from bottom to top were as follows:
     - Sunburst yellow tomato and white wine vinegar puree
     - Watercress, chevre, onion, Chinese yellow chive and mayonnaise
     - Roma plum tomato, sea salt, white pepper and virgin olive oil puree
     - Cucumber, dijon, cream puree
     - Thin sliced cold smoke cured salmon was floated on top
     - A garnish of ngò om (rice paddy herb) and Chinese yellow chive strips
     When the flavors were tasted individually or combined, there was no gazpacho flavor!  The flavors combined to create a nice meld and contrast of familiar French flavors with ingredients that are not commonly used in classic French cuisine.  Some of the ingredients have found there way into fusion cuisine, but only to be masked by too much soy sauce and miso paste from heavy handed fusion chefs.  
     The amount of dijon mustard in the top puree was critical.  Too much dijon mustard would add a negative flavor, so a delicate dijon mustard zest was the goal.  
     When all the layers are combined, this puree salad tastes like a watercress tomato salad flavored with delicate mild chives, a little bit of fresh goat cheese and a white wine vinegar dijon vinaegrette!  French! 
     Layered Puree Salads Guidelines:  
     Each puree must be the same consistency as the one above and below it.  Each puree should be light, but it should not be thin.  Each puree should barely be able to stand in a spoon and it should be a medium thin mousse consistency.  
     All the purees must be chilled to the same temperature.  
     None of the layers should have any excess liquid weeping out of the puree.  
     No starch or gelatin should be used to modify the texture of the puree!
     The cream or creme fraiche should be aerated by whisking.
     Mayonnaise is only necessary to buffer the strong flavor of the watercress puree.  (Without mayonnaise, a watercress puree aroma is like black pepper sprinkled on fermenting green grass!  Mayonnaise corrects the chlorophyl displacement.)
     No ingredients should be blanched and shocked for a fresh puree salad!
     Each puree must be passed trough a fine mesh strainer!
     Exact measurements are impossible for a puree salad.  Each vegetable can have a variable amount of liquid or water.
     For example:
     - The puree of the yellow tomato was much thicker than the Roma tomato puree, even though I removed the seeds and juice from the Roma tomato.
     - The yellow chive acted like a thickening agent in the watercress puree.  The Chevre goat cheese actually thinned the watercress puree.
     - Cream helps to thicken a puree if it is whisked and aerated.
     - Cucumber is very watery, so only a small amount was used to add a delicate summer vegetable flavor to the dijon creme puree.

     Now that you see the guidelines above, it should be easier to adjust the consistencies of each puree, so they will match each others consistency!  The flavors are fine and they should need no adjustment, unless one of the ingredients that you select has an unusually strong or weak flavor.  The measurements below should only be used as a guideline.  
     I used a Swiss electric blending wand to puree.  For larger batches use a food processor.  Keep in mind that both appliances produce heat from friction, so puree with short pulses.
     The recipes below will fill one 6 ounce to 8 ounce glass to the serving level.  About 5 or 6 ounces total is one portion.  Keep in mind that each puree should have a medium consistency.   

     Sunburst Yellow Tomato and White Wine Vinegar Puree:
     Place 8 to 10 sunburst yellow tomatoes in a tall mixing cup.
     Add 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar.
     Add sea salt and 1 very tiny pinch of white pepper.
     Use a blending wand to puree the ingredients to a smooth medium consistency.
     Press the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a cup.
     Chill the puree till it is needed.

     Watercress, Chevre and Chinese Yellow Chive Puree:
     Chinese yellow chives are garlic chives that are shielded from light as they grow.  They have a nice light garlic flavor.
     Pluck the leaves off of 1 bunch of watercress and place them in a tall mixing cup.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of soft fresh chevre cheese.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced onion.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced Chinese yellow chives.
     Use a blending wand to puree the ingredients to a smooth paste consistency.
     Add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise.  (The amount of mayonnaise depends on the moisture content of the watercress.)
     Use a blending wand to puree the ingredients to a smooth medium consistency.
     Press the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a cup.
     Chill the puree till it is needed.

     Roma Tomato and Virgin Olive Oil Puree:
     Place 2 peeled and seeded small Roma plum tomatoes in a tall mixing cup.  Squeeze out any excess tomato juice!
     Add 1 small pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Use a blending wand to puree the ingredients to a smooth medium consistency.
     Add 1 teaspoon of virgin olive oil while pureeing.
     Press the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a cup.
     Chill the puree till it is needed.

     Cucumber Dijon Creme Puree:
     Place 1 tablespoon of peeled seeded cucumber in a tall mixing cup.
     Add 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
     Use a blending wand to puree the ingredients to a smooth consistency.
     Add 2 tablespoons of sour cream.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cream.
     Use a blending wand to puree and aerate the ingredients by using short pulses.  (The puree should be a smooth medium thin consistency and it will thicken after it is chilled.)
     Press the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a cup.
     Chill the puree till it is needed.

     Layered Puree Salads with Smoked Salmon:
     After each puree is chilled, the layering of the puree salads should be easy.  Either a small plastic squirt bottle or gently roll the puree off of a spoon to create each layer.  Try to keep the squirt bottle or spoon close to the layer of the puree, that the higher level of puree is being placed on, so no mixing occurs.
     Layer the purees in any order that you wish, bit the cucumber dijon creme layer should be on top, because it matches with the smoked salmon.
     After the salad purees are layered, float a thin layer of thin sliced smoked salmon on top.
     Garnish with Vietnamese rice paddy herb leaves.
     Garnish with a few short sections of Chinese yellow chive.

     This salad takes a little bit of time to make.  It can be chilled after it is assembled and later served to guests.  Guests are easily impressed with layered puree salads!  Layered puree salads are usually eaten with the tip of a spoon, so take your time enjoying this salad too. 

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