The star of this dish is the cauliflower purée. While the teriyaki salmon and pickled vegetables are truly delicious in their own right, it is the purée that harmonizes these diverse flavours into a dish worthy of a very special occasion.
How well the three components harmonise is what makes this dish so successful. The freshness and brightness of the pickled vegetables, the sweet complexity of the teriyaki smothered salmon, and brought together by the nutty creamy cauliflower, yoghurt, and roast garlic purée.
The term “pickled” is loosely used. Specifically, this is a quick pickle in vinegar as opposed to fermenting the vegetables. While it may lack the “funkiness” of fermentation, the pickled vegetables retain more of their original flavour. The brightness of the vinegar enhances that core flavour in combination with the sugar and aromatics.
Pickling vegetables is a food preservation technique common to many cuisines. Pickled vegetables are common in Japanese and Korean cuisine. Pickled mustard greens and pickled beansprouts are common in Vietnam. Fermentation is also a common preservation technique, such as the fermented fish used in this consommé. It is to our benefit that these preservation methods also result in such a multitude of flavour enhancements.
Teriyaki is a Japanese flavour profile that has as many interpretations globally as an Indian curry. The dishes teriyaki salmon and teriyaki chicken can be found on menus around the world. As with the curries likely found on the same menus, they bear little resemblance to the similarly named dishes in their country of origin. That situation does not detract from their culinary contribution to their new host. Indian curries in England and Japan have taken own their own character and significance.
And so it is with the teriyaki sauce used to flavour the salmon. The ginger and garlic are not typical of the classic Japanese version. The rest of the ingredients are. And that is the point. PLEASE do not settle for off-the-shelf teriyaki sauce. Apply that little extra effort to make your own. The depth of flavour that it brings to the salmon makes that extra effort worth it, many times over.
The other technique that sets this preparation of teriyaki salmon apart from most you will find is the use of potato starch to provide a coating on the salmon to soak up the teriyaki sauce. This is key to maximizing the flavour contribution from this delicious sauce. The use of potato starch in this agedashi tofu dish has a similar effect.
The quantities in this recipe make more teriyaki sauce than needed for the salmon. Keep the rest in the refrigerator for another dish. It will last several weeks.
For only four ingredients plus seasoning, this preparation lifts above its weight. Eating a bowl of this purée on its own would be immensely satisfying. In this recipe, though, it is the base, the foundation. As well as being delicious in its own right, it serves to highlight and complement the brightness of the pickled vegetables, and the complexity of the teriyaki salmon.
One point to be aware of with the purée is its density or thickness. It should hold its shape but feel quite creamy in the mouth. This spectrum is largely the result of how much liquid, in this case, dashi, is added to the purée. Don’t add too much. You cannot take it away again.
To plate the cauliflower purée, use a baking ring of about 10 cm diameter to contain the purée on the plate. Lift the baking ring away and add the toppings. If you have added too much dashi and the purée is not firm enough, it will spread out a bit on the plate. This was the case with the photo above. Not a big problem. It will still taste amazing!
While not intentional, the colors of this dish remind me of Christmas.
Cauliflower purée with pickled vegetables and teriyaki salmon
- 125 ml soy sauce
- 100 ml sake
- 100 ml mirin
- 40 g brown sugar
- 10 g ginger grated
- 10 g garlic crushed
- 600 g cauliflower pieces
- 1 head roasted garlic
- 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup dashi made with hondashi is OK
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 500 g salmon fillet skin on
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
Green onion oil
- 1/2 cup canola oil or grapeseed oil
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions aka spring onions
- Black sesame seeds
- Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
- Reduce the heat to a low and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- The teriyaki sauce is done when it has reduced and thickened.
- Dissolve 1 Tbsp salt in the 500 ml water.
- Top and tail the red onion, remove the other layers, cut width wise then break up the layers to get a pile of onion rings.
- Cut the top 5 cm from 8 asparagus spears. Keep the rest for another use such as Asparagus Soup.
- Brine the asparagus spears and onion rings in the salted water for one hour.
- Peel and slice the ginger.
- In a small saucepan, combine the 200 ml water, 200 ml rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp salt, 2 Tbsp sugar, the star anise, and the sliced ginger.
- Bring up to a high simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve.
- Allow to cool until just warm to the touch.
- Pierce the cherry tomatoes length-wise with a bbq skewer (several piercings by a toothpick will do if you don’t have such skewers on hand).
- Cut the fibrous base off of the shimeji mushrooms. Sear in a hot pan in a little oil for a few minutes until starting to brown. Drain and cool on paper towels.
- Drain the asparagus and red onion from the brine.
- Add the kombu, asparagus, red onion, tomatoes, and mushrooms to a 1 litre jar.
- Pour the pickling liquid, together with the ginger, star anise, and peppercorns, into the jar. It should cover the vegetables. Top up with a little more water if necessary.
- When the jar has cooled to room temperature, store in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.
- Roast the garlic according to instructions here .
- Boil the garlic pieces in a large saucepan of lightly salted water until soft (about 15 minutes).
- Drain the cauliflower in a sieve and refresh under cold water. Drain.
- Squeeze the cloves of garlic from the roasted head.
- In a food processor, combine the cooked cauliflower, roasted garlic, Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup of the dashi, and 1/2 tsp salt.
- Blend until smooth. Add more of the dashi as needed to get the correct consistency. It should be creamy but able to hold its shape.
- Cut the salmon fillet across its width into 3cm wide pieces.
- Dust the fillets with potato starch.
- Heat the oil in a non-stick pan or well-seasoned skillet over a medium heat.
- Add the salmon fillets skin side down. Cook until you can see the colour change from orange to pink rise up 1/3 of the height of the fillet. Turn the fillets to fry the other sides until the potato starch develops a crispy layer, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Transfer the salmon fillets to a plate and brush with teriyaki sauce.
Green onion oil
- Gently fry the green onions in the oil until the onions are brown. 15-20 minutes.
- Strain the oil through a fine strainer and discard the browned onions.
- Using a baking ring to contain the shape, add a serving of cauliflower purée to the plate.
- Place some pickled vegetables and a slice of the teriyaki salmon.
- Drizzle with some green onion oil.
- Top with some black sesame seeds.