482F Oven on a 95F day

Posted on Saturday, August 22, 2009 | 0 comments

Since the temperature was bordering on 100 today, we decided to spice things up even more and hit Naan Ghandi's for lunch. The actual name of the restaurant is Tandoor, but we always refer to it at Naan Ghandi's. (The first time we went, after the place had just opened, there was a guy making nann who, I swear, could've been Ghandi himself reincarnate. And wow, could Ghandi make a mean naan!) There are a few Indian restaurants in our area, but this one is definitely the best.
Ghandi unfortunately disappeared after that first sighting, but Naan Ghandi's has thankfully continued to prosper. Quite possibly solely due to their cocaine soup. Seriously, though, this is some of the best soup I've ever had. It's absolutely addicting. We've been trying forever to figure out exactly what is in this stuff, and have even asked the manager/head waiter. His response? 'Chiiicken....some egg...and spices, lots of spices'. Thanks. Very helpful, mister. I've spotted some pepper in there, and it also has a slightly sweet taste, so we're guessing sugar, too. If anyone has any idea what kind of soup it is, please tell me so I can do a recipe search! I've already scoured the internet for 'Indian chicken soup recipe' to no avail.
Besides our amazing soup, we also got a little sampler of tandoori chicken, rice, salad, and then some kind of chicken curry (I can't remember exactly what the name was), and some ram curry. Or it could have been 'l'amb curry. Hah. Whatever the case, it was something to do with sheep, and it was great. Oh, and of course, naan as big as your head. We were of course stuffed by the time we rolled ourselves out an hour later, but it was definitely worth it. Naan as big as your head!

Moving on to dinner...I tried a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook that came highly recommended (thanks, Kristyn!). Eli's Asian Salmon. Not sure who Eli is, but he makes some pretty crazy fish. Here's the recipe, preceded by my own notes.

We couldn't find 'fish sauce' per se at the grocery store, so we bought Nanpura, which is pretty close---a kind of fishy soy sauce made with anchovies. They also didn't have chili paste and we were too lazy to head over to the import store, so we bought tobanjan, which is Chinese chili paste made with red pepper, broad bean paste, soy sauce, chili oil, and sake lees. To make up for all this extra sodium, I used light soy sauce. Finally, our microwave/oven only goes to 250F, which is 482F, not quite 500F. Nanpura and Tobanjan

I kept everything else the same on a quarter scale though, right down to the panko, which was rather a sacrifice on my part since all the panko we could find contained shortening or margarine. And if you know me, you know that I hate hate HATE trans fats. HATE. THEM. Here's hoping that Japanese culture catches on soon to how evil that crap is. (It's only taken Americans how long?) Seriously though, there's even shortening in most types of bread here! If you're reading this over breakfast, put down your toast and go check your bread loaf label...yuck.
Back on track, though. Our overall rating of this recipe was a 7. It was good...but also a bit too 'in your face' in terms of flavor. That could be from the substitutions I made, or it could be due to the fast that Yuki and I are both accustomed to milder Japanese cuisine. Also, perhaps because it was baked at a slightly lower temperature, the panko wasn't really crispy. I'm guessing it wasn't supposed to be though, since the instructions tell you to cover the salmon tightly after removing it from the oven and let it sit. I'd recommend crushing up some saltines and using those instead of panko. They're easier to find in the U.S. and will likely stay crispier, besides the obvious benefit of no trans fats.

Eli's Asian Salmon
From: Barefoot Contessa at Home, by Ina Garten

2 1/4 pounds center-cut salmon fillet (1 1/2 inches thick)
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon toasted (dark) sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili paste
1/2 cup sliced scallions (2 scallions)
2 tablespoons minced garlic (8 large cloves)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Line an 8 by 12-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Place the salmon in the pan.

In a mixing cup, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, lemon juice, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, scallions, garlic, and ginger. Pour 1/3 of soy sauce mixture over the salmon fillet.

Sprinkle the panko evenly over the fillet. Pour the rest of the soy sauce mixture evenly over the panko. Be sure to soak the panko completely and if any runs off, spoon back onto the salmon. Set aside for 15 minutes, leaving all the sauce in the pan.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Roast the salmon for 18 to 20 minutes, or for about 12 minutes per inch at the thickest part of the salmon. The internal temperature will be 120 degrees F on a meat thermometer when it's done. Remove from the oven, wrap tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

The final product: Eli's Asian Salmon along with sesame spinach and a melody of sauteed mushrooms