22 Sep Chef’s Demo at Kaaboo Festival in San Diego
Over the weekend I was lucky enough to do my first chef’s demo at Kaboo Festival in San Diego. It was a rush of nerves and excitement but I’m thrilled with how it went. I prepared my take on a Vietnamese classic of catfish stewed in caramel- but I switched out the catfish for salmon in a tribute to my hometown and added an herb slaw to balance out the fish and the sweetness of the caramel. I also prepared one of my favorite cocktails- The Bay- which Pomerol restaurant in Seattle was nice enough to let me share in a public forum- it’s one of the greatest cocktails I have ever tasted.
Being my first demo, I was pretty nervous and started practicing a few weeks leading up to the demo. The only hitch was I out on tour. Once again, #TasteCase to the rescue. I ended up practicing the dish in a parking lot in Cincinnati off all places. Classy. Tons of hungry band and crew members roaming around were able to give me feedback, which was helpful too.
Flash forward to the day of the event. Chef Chad White of Común in San Diego was nice enough to help me out on stage, and nice enough not to break out laughing during the demo when I managed to knock over a full cocktail over AND burn my hand shortly after. He grew up in the NW too and jokes were made about us being brothers from another mother. Must be a beard thing.
It was great hanging with him backstage after the demo- he even put out an offer to take me on a street taco tour of Tiajuana next time I’m in San Diego. I interrupted and answered “yes” immediately as soon as he said “…street taco…”
Pan Seared Salmon with Vietnamese Caramel and Herb Slaw
Caramel (Yields 1.5 c)
2 C sugar
1/3 c water
1/3 c Vietnamese fish sauce (Red Boat Brand preferred)
1 heaping T finely minced fresh ginger
1 heaping T finely minced garlic
1/2 t thai ground chili powder
Combine 1/3 c water and sugar in a pot. Bring to boil, cook over medium-high heat, swirling pan, until syrup forms a deep amber color. Remove from heat. Add garlic, ginger, fish sauce, chili powder and 1/4c water, stir thoroughly over low heat dissolving any clumps. (Careful- caramel can splatter initially). Set aside.
Slaw (Enough for 4 portions of fish)
1 T fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2 T cilantro leaves, leaves whole
2 T thai basil leaves, rough chop
1 T green onions, sliced no thicker than nickels (dimes if you can manage)
1.5 T fried shallots (available at any asian grocery)
1 birds eye red chilis, sliced thinly as possible
1/2 T lime juice
1/2 T sesame oil
1 T peanuts, rough chop, toasted
Combine all ingredients immediately before serving.
(4) 6-8oz filets of salmon, pin bones removed
Preheat oven to 450. Heat a non stick pan to medium high. Add 2-3 T of peanut oil. Add salmon filets flesh side down. Immediately swirl pan to prevent filets from sticking. Sear for approximate 2-3 minutes, until flesh is a golden brown. Gently flip salmon to skin side down and transfer to oven. (If your pan isn’t oven safe, transfer to baking dish and put in oven). Bake for approximately 7 minutes until flesh is starting to flake and medium rare in center.
Glaze the salmon with a tablespoon of caramel. Top with a generous pinch (about a tablespoon or two) of the herb slaw.
Bay Cocktail (courtesy of Pomerol Restaurant in Seattle, Washington)
1 oz bourbon
3/4 oz dry vermouth
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz OJ
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
dash of bitters
Combine all ingredients over ice in cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into martini glass.