science experiment

When I was little, my parents took us to this Italian restaurant in Tokyo once in a while. I don't remember much from it except the warm, quaint ambiance and a couple of items off of the menu. My sister always got the fresh papardelle with tomato cream sauce and I always got the spinach fettuccine with salmon cream sauce. And for some reason, though I've successfully recreated the papardelle as best as my childhood memory will let me, I've never attempted the spinach fettuccine with salmon. I'm not sure why. So finally, after writing about homemade pasta last week, I decided it was definitely time.
Here's the thing about spinach pasta. It can be done 2 ways. You can just chop up some spinach and add it into your pasta dough, but that'll add unneccesary water from the spinach, and can possibly result in the wrong texture. As well as a not-so-smooth color. The other way is to extract the chlorophyll from the leaves themselves, which results in a more cohesive color, and doesn't change the texture of the pasta. (But then it's not really "spinach" pasta anymore, it's more just a natural green pasta. You can use any dark, leafy greens for this) So I decided to go the hard route. Just to see if I could.

When I was talking to my sister about this method last week, she joked and said it sounds like a science experiment. And it does, doesn't it? But I guess a lot of cooking is a bit of an experiment. But it made me feel cool that I learned a cooking method that involves the word "extract". There's something so advanced about that. Though I am no where near advanced.
Now, it is a little labor intensive. But so worth it! The resulting color is so spectacular! And tossed with salmon gently poached in a rich milky-cream sauce, you just can't go wrong ... Well, unless you're eating like this everyday. Don't be deceived by the health benefits of the salmon and spinach here, folks. This is not a healthy dish. But for a special occasion, PLEASE try it. It'll change your life:)
As for the salmon, try to find the thicker fillets. As opposed to the thin, triangular shaped fillets, which as a less desired cut of the fish. The thin fillets come from the tail end and cook too fast to be poached well. The thicker fillets tend to have more fat marbled in (and fat=flavor), are easier to skin (if you get them skin-on), and cook more evenly. Of course, if you don't live in the Pacific Northwest where you can get the best salmon, there might be slim pickings. Like where I am in the midwest. Ah, how I long for Portland salmon. So you Oregonians reading this, please buy good salmon for the rest of us. Make this for a special occasion and splurge a little on the fish. You'll be so glad you did.

And I'll be jealous you did. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

How to extract chlorophyll from leafy greens to make pasta
from Essentials of Cooking by James Peterson
1/2 lb spinach (or other leafy greens) leaves, cleaned and stems removed
cold water

medium sauce pan
fine mesh strainer (or a medium mesh strainer with cheese cloth)
  1. Place the leaves in the blender. Pour enough water to go half way up the leaves. Purée for about a minute, until it becomes mostly smooth, like a soup.
  2. Strain the purée in a fine mesh strainer, letting the reserved green liquid drain into a heavy-bottom medium saucepan. Gently press down on the solids with the back of a lade to get as much liquid out as you can. You can discard the solids. (Or use them in something else like spinach hummus. Yum!)
  3. Heat the reserved liquid over medium heat until floating green clumps appear. Drain immediately through a fine mesh strainer. This time, don't press down on the solids and be patient. The green paste in the strainer is the chlorophyll. Use the chlorophyll within 2 days or transfer it to a small jar and cover its surface with olive oil. Store in the fridge for a few weeks.
Add extracted chlorophyll to food processor bowl with the eggs in step 1 of my favorite fresh pasta recipe.

Fresh Spinach Fettuccine with Salmon Cream sauce
4 portions of center-cut salmon fillet. Skinned, patted dry, cut into 1 inch cubes, and sprinkled generously with kosher salt
1 recipe spinach fettuccine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 garlic clove, sliced very thin
  1. In a deep sauté pan, heat the cream, milk, and garlic over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Once it comes to a simmer, turn the heat off, add the salmon, and cover. Meanwhile, Cook the pasta to al dente.
  2. The salmon will cook quickly, so keep an eye on it. Once it's barely cooked through, about 3~5 minutes, toss with the pasta and serve immediately. 
And since I trust Scott Conant when it comes to pasta, and he says you don't ever put cheese on a fish dish, I don't recommend doing that.

1 comment:

Nippon Nin said...

OK, I trying to leave my comment on this post before but I was not successful. I don't know why. I just want to say those photos are great and looks delicious!