Archive for February 12, 2011

Anthony Bourdain’s Salad Danglers

February 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Salade d’onglet was a brilliant recipe; but it totally sounds like salad danglers. I think that’s a euphemism for something sweaty Greek men do in steam-baths.  First, it gave me a good excuse to eat steak. If you’ve ever spent time around women – and rumor has it you have – you know that they tend to prefer organically raised cracked Bulgarian spelt salads made out of lettuce that was harvested on the night when its sun-sign was bio-rhythmic with other leafy greens and sprouts-of-other-things-you-don’t-want-to-eat-when-fully-grown. So combining that with a nicely marinated steak is kind of genius. I mean, it’s healthy, right?

Look at all the organic leafy greens! (Never mind the steak..)

I actually waited too long to make this, I blanked on the fact that the steak has to marinate for at least three hours, but preferably over night. So I really only had half an hour to marinate it. Even so, it came out very flavorful. One winning takeaway from this dish – a fantastic marinate that packs a ton of flavor. The ginger, the soy sauce and the vinegar all combine to something that’s greater than the sum of its parts. I will keep this in my back pocket for all my meat-marinating needs. And chef – I have needs. Meat needs. Thank you for helping me with my meat needs.

Other than that, I know how to make a steak and toss a salad, it’s pretty straightforward. When I go to the market and ask for “onglet” I get a wall-eyed look. (From a man wearing chainmail and carrying a scimitar, so you know, I’m inclined to keep it not-too-surprising with these guys.) But flank steak is very popular around these parts, and I had no problem scoring a pallet-sized side of it at Costco. I used half for this recipe, and the other half is vaccuum-packed and waiting for me now in the freezer, like something wonderful that lurks in a deep, frozen slumber. Like Walt Disney’s head!

Walt Disney’s head, on the other hand, wouldn’t be nearly as good with some greens and a nice red wine vinaigrette. And that’s the other takeaway from this recipe – a really nice, simple dressing that packs a lot of flavor into a small volume. Like Kristin Chenoweth. If she were salad dressing, this would be her – sassy, bold and highly concentrated. You can tell her I said that, Chef. You know, if it ever comes up.

So thanks for another hit, Chef – this one was easy, was really excellent, and has lots of great ways to be re-purposed for other dishes.

Plus, it’s a great excuse to eat MEAT! totally healthy green leafy vegetables!


Coquilles Saint-Jacques with Champagne (As fancy as a French admiral!)

February 12, 2011 11 comments

Dear Chef;

Champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends, right? Here’s a recipe that involves cream, butter, and champagne – it’s more or less fucking impossible to go wrong. You could just slop that in a bucket and hand it someone with a spoon, and with a hearty “Bon appetit!” they’d tuck right in.

Apparently Jacques was the patron saint of rich food.

You do recommend that this tastes best with good champagne, but it’s just not in the budget. I compromised and went with something better than your basic $10 bottle, but still not so much as to break the bank. Is that sad, though? Is that just middle-class aspirations to a kind of luxury that doesn’t fit in not just my budget, but my whole cultural world? Sometimes I feel like a poseur social climber like something from “Vanity Fair” with all this fancy food. But then I actually eat it, and feel better. I mean a little. I still feel a little bit like I’m crying inside. While eating. But then other times I just feel like I’m learning a skill, and even every night isn’t going to be coquile saint-jacques, at least I’ve learned to make a decent pan sauce, and how properly treat the entree.

And this one really is all about the scallops. The sauce is delicious, but you can sop it up with some bread and enjoy it. To really make it something special, the scallops have to be right. I shopped around for some good ones, and got my meez ready. Assistant Chef Bourdain was on hand to help, too.

The dog loves champagne. What can I say? He's fancy.

I did get proper sea scallops, and not bay scallops. We’re lucky to have easy access to pretty good fish markets around here, so they weren’t hard to find. I’m probably going to have to substitute these for the skate wings in “skate wing grenoblaise” though, because skates are on the list of fish that are in danger from over-fishing. I checked around and sea scallops are about the closest thing. I’ll try not to feel like I’ve totally failed, but fuck man, I found every kind of gut, stomach, gizzard and anus imaginable for the tripes Les Halles. I think I earned a mulligan.

They don't look like skate wings...


The sauce is pretty easy, though “fish fumet” is easier talked about than actually acquired. I didn’t have time to have another Stock Day just for fish stock, so I had to make do with what I could find. Since our dinner guest was a vegetarian (but the kind that eats fish) I had to use vegetable stock. Next time I go fishing, or end up with some heads and bones and whatnot, I’ll make proper fish stock. This is a straightforward sauce, though this one was strained. But anyway, I softened the shallots with some butter, then added veggie stock (that should have been fish stock…) and brought it to a boil. After reducing it by half, I added the cream and brought that up to a boil. It simmered for a while and I strained it and set it aside.



As per your instructions, at this point I broke into the champagne. I’ve noticed a lot of your recipes involve starting the drinking early. I’m not an able enough drinker that this is a great idea, but I’m not churl enough to suggest that it’s a bad idea, ok? Not only have my knife skills improved – but my *drunken* knife skills have improved, too!

Into a hot pan go the scallops, after they’ve been patted dry and seasoned.

Does "scallop" rhyme with "gallop", or "wallop"?

After that, it’s all down hill. Set the scallops aside, finish the pan sauce. Voila. I let the scallops sit a little too long though, I’m afraid. By the time I’d sauteed some asparagus and got them onto the table, they were sort of lukewarm. Still really delicious. But what do I know? I was god-damn hammered at this point – as drunk as a French Admiral and feelin’ about as fancy! So fancy I dressed the plate up so it looked all swellsville, too. Though my attempt to drizzle a little sauce over the scallops turned into something more like a cream-sauce splodge. I guess they teach you that stuff in chef school, but me? I am just an ape, imitating more sophisticated apes. With cream sauce.

You can see them gradually cooling.

Is anything more frightening than a drunken ape with cream sauce, chef?


The end result was pretty fancy! (Not quite as fancy as a French Admiral though.)

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