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Santa Barbara, CA, United States
I enjoy creating original wine-pairing recipes that are healthful and delicious. I work for Touring & Tasting a Santa Barbara based wine club and national magazine as Food Editor. However, I am not paid for this blog and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I received my Personal Chef Skills Competency Award from the SBCC's School Of Culinary Arts. In 2012, I started Inside Wine - Santa Barbara with pal Lila Brown which features wine tastings with winery owners and winemakers. I also serve on the Board of the Santa Barbara Culinary Arts group, which had Julia Child as one of the founding members and funds scholarships for SBCC culinary students in her name.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pino-terroir-ist or Pino-terrorist?

The wine/food pairing of Pinot Noir and salmon is as classic as steak and Cabernet Sauvignon. I hadn't seen a teriyaki-cooked salmon makizushi recipe before, but came up with this sushi recipe with salmon pan-cooked in a ginger teriyaki sauce. Eat it warm with the salmon meltingly tender, or chill for a picnic--the salmon will firm up. Either way, this salmon makizushi recipe pairs delectably with your 2008 Acacia "Lone Tree Vineyard" Pinot Noir. If you don't have an Asian market in your neighborhood, most chain groceries now carry Japanese cooking ingredients. You will need a makisu (Japanese bamboo sushi mat--which costs about $3).

7 Tbsp. sake' (Japanese rice wine-drier than below)
7 Tbsp. mirin (Japanese cooking wine-sweeter than above)
7 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
In a large frying pan, heat the ingredients to a boil and reduce by half (the width of a frying pan helps speed evaporation). You can bottle this to use later in the week, or turn off the heat and use the teriyaki sauce in the recipe below.
2 1/2 cups uncooked short-grain rice (Japanese preferred)
6" piece of konbu (giant kelp)
2 Tbsp. sake'
4 1/2 Tbsp. rice vinegar + 1/2 cup in small bowl to moisten hands
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
Cooking the rice: Wash the rice by putting into the rice cooker insert or pot (if you are using a standard pot for cooking) and filling it with water. Swish the rice around the water for a minute, then carefully pour off the water without losing any rice grains. (It's not necessary to drain all the water). Repeat 6 times--this is the Japanese tradition--to wash the rice 7 times. If you don't have the patience for this, wash the rice until the water is no longer opaque. Strain the rice, put in your rice cooker or pot and add 2 1/2 cups of water.  Add the washed piece of kelp and cook in rice cooker, or on the stove: bring to a boil, covered with a lid. If the lid is lightweight, use and inverted coffee cup on top to keep the lid tightly sealed. Let boil for a minute, then turn  down heat to lowest setting and simmer for 30 minutes. Don't open the lid and let the steam escape! Turn off the heat and let sit on the stove for 15 minutes before using.

Flavoring the rice: Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt together. You may need to heat the mixture slightly so the salt and sugar will dissolve completely. Next, taste it! This is the part that is important--take the time to really taste the balance of the flavors. You are looking for the perfect balance of sweet, tart and salty. Adjust as needed.
 Coating the rice with sugar/vinegar mixture: When you add the vinegar/sugar liquid to the rice, you need to use a fan and to work fast. Your goal is to coat each individual grain of rice with the vinegar dressing without breaking up the individual grains. Set up an electric fan towards your container with the speed on medium. Air moving across the hot rice will help evaporate moisture from the hot rice and keep it from getting mushy. If you have a hangiri tub, the process will be easy as the rice will not stick to it. If you don't, use a shallow wood or plastic container (not metal as the rice will stick). With a flat, wooden spoon or rice paddle, spread the rice across the bottom of your container and quickly mix the dressing into the rice using horizontal, cutting strokes (you may not have to use all the dressing--if you use too much, the rice will become mushy). Try to spread out the rice as you go so the maximum surface area is exposed to the air from the fan. If done properly, the rice will be fluffy, have a nice texture and will be glossy from the vinegar/sugar dressing.  The process of  doing this will take about 10 minutes.

Teriyaki and sushi ingredients above
6 sheets roasted nori (Japanese seaweed sheets)
1/2 lb. salmon (an 8" cut will fit the 8x9" nori)
around 1/8 cup black sesame seeds
Heat the teriyaki sauce over low heat in the frying pan. Cut the salmon into three strips lengthwise and carefully cook in the sauce, turning frequently with a spatula so the fish is cooked through and sauce has coated all sides. Turn off heat. With water, wet the short edge of one nori sheet and tack it to the short end of another--repeat so you have three double-long sheets of nori. Wrap your makisu with several sheets of plastic wrap. Then, place a double-length nori on your sushi mat (the mat goes round side down--so the flat part of the mat faces up). Dip your fingers in the bowl of vinegar and use them to pick up clumps of rice to press into the first four inches of the nori sheet so you have a rectangle of rice that spreads across the width of the nori on just the first four inches. Place one of the salmon strips in the middle of the rectangle, then roll up the mat until the leading edge meets the counter--you should then have your makizushi roll inside the mat. Gently press the mat into the roll to compact it. When you peel the mat away, your makizushi roll will be left with a "tail" of empty nori--wet just the end of the nori and roll the makizushi all the way--the water will seal the end of the nori to the makizushi. Repeat to make the other two makizushi. With a very sharp knife, cut the rolls into 1" slices--wetting the knife with vinegar will help to keep the rice from sticking to the blade. Also, cleaning the knife in between cuts will help make clean slices. Plate the makizushi and sprinkle with black sesame seeds. This salmon recipe is tasty paired with the 2008 Acacia "Lone Tree Vineyard" Pinot Noir.
Makes 3 makizushi rolls, about 6 servings.

Let's appreciate for Pinocabulary! (I liked the idea of Pinoteers)
Pinot noir has been called the "heartbreak grape"--fussy, sensitive to weather conditions, prone to myriad diseases, and sometimes producing a wine that is mushy and thin. But, when it is great, Pinot lives up to the dictionary definition: "remarkable in magnitude, degree, or effectiveness;  eminent, distinguished; chief or preeminent over others;  markedly superior in character or quality; especially : NOBLE: " It's the last part that intrigues me the most of Pinotphiles--the spiritual way they talk of the experience of drinking Pinot and the rhapsodic, almost dreamy quality that comes over their visage when they talk about their wine. Matt Kramer wrote "Pinot is a form of madness for both producer and drinker alike. Both persist because a great Pinot Noir brings you as close to God as any wine can." Remember Miles in "Sideways"?
Maya: You know, can I ask you a personal question, Miles?
Miles Raymond: Sure.
Maya: Why are you so in to Pinot?
Miles Raymond: [laughs softly]
Maya: I mean, it's like a thing with you.
Miles Raymond: [continues laughing softly]
Miles Raymond: Uh, I don't know, I don't know. Um, it's a hard grape to grow, as you know. Right? It's uh, it's thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It's, you know, it's not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and uh, thrive even when it's neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention. You know? And in fact it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot's potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they're just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and... ancient on the planet.

Is it the love needed to grow these grapes that puts soul into the wine?

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