Testing Radically Simple
February 7th, 2012 - By Lari Robling
When my son and I have a few hours with our schedules in sync we like cook together. Admittedly, this is not without its potential for some friction – he works in some of the best restaurants in Philadelphia (duck fat is just a walk-in refrigerator away and there's someone else to wash the dishes) and I am the champion of the home cook (I hope I have more butter in the freezer and can I do this in one bowl).
Rozanne Gold's newest cookbook, Radically Simple, gives us safe territory to navigate the gap between the professional and a home cook. Subtitled Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease these 325 recipes blend simplicity of preparation with extraordinary ingredient combinations to yield sophisticated dishes.
Full disclosure, I've known Rozanne ever since I interviewed her in the late nineties for Philadelphia's The Book and The Cook. She was well into her now eleven books and signature three-ingredient recipes. Not to mention that as a consultant she's had an influence on the menus of acclaimed restaurants around the world. Generous of spirit as well, she's always had time for this food journalist, so that made trying a recipe from her latest book all the more likely to be a good time.
While Radically Simple departs from the three-ingredient rule, it by no means leaves the fundamental philosophy behind. These are recipes that are composed like music – each ingredient is a flavor note creating a harmonious structure. So, as my son and I read the recipe for Golden Robe Salmon with Snow Peas and Red Cabbage we exclaimed in unison, "turmeric AND rosemary WITH miso?"
But, it didn't take long for us to discover the genius of the results. This recipe comes together faster than the pizza delivery guy can get to the door. And the cooking technique of broiling the fish followed by oven heat achieves the restaurant result of a pan sear then roasting to finish. (The textural contrast made the restaurant guy very happy.)
The really remarkable thing about this recipe is, despite our skepticism, the miso gives the dish that unctuous umami richness, but the bitterness of the turmeric and the savory rosemary add balance. The result is a very sophisticated dish good enough for special company, but easy enough for a weeknight meal.
Miso, if you've never tried it, is a fermented soybean paste. The white is sweeter although I find I can interchange it with the yellow. The red is stronger and used in heavier dishes. I'll often use white or yellow miso in place of butter on corn on the cob in the summer and it works well in salad dressings. Just be aware that while it has some great nutritional attributes, it is high in sodium.
Rozanne provided the Golden Robe Salmon for you to try. You can find her food insights and trends on Rozanne's blog and Huffington Post. Starting in May Cooking Light magazine will feature a monthly Radically Simple column.