“Syunkon” Salmon with Mushroom Orzotto and Carrot Salad

Syunkon Salmon with Mushroom Orzotto and Carrot SaladThis is a recipe that Hiro and I dreamed up way back in October during preparation for my Red Seal exam. I knew that I had to cook a salmon fillet in a short period of time, showcase seasonal and traditional Westcoast ingredients ‘n flavours while remaining true to my Japanese training.  Nothing says Westcoast like smoked salmon, but there didn’t seem to be enough time… “Syunkon” said Hiro, meaning “moment”, “flash” or “instant” in Japanese. What if the salmon was seared first, then given a moment’s rest in a smoker? Well I’ve got a bombed-out old wok I never use, let’s see…

The result… The fish has a sweet-smoky flavour and aroma, yet maintains moisture and tenderness, a commonly difficult trait to infuse into homemade smoked salmon. The big bonus: crispy skin!

Now, I wanted to pair the salmon with a seasonal risotto just to show off a bit… ‘Cept I don’t like using Italian rice… And any good little Italian boy will tell you that if your risotto isn’t made with Arborio rice than it ‘aint momma’s. They are, of course, completely correct. While I love congee and grits, I’m sorry to say that the half-liquefied texture so prized in Italian classical risotto doesn’t push my love buttons. Enter pearl barley and “Orzotto”. You can cook it exactly like rice and the final product still retains enough of a shape and graininess that it feels like your actually eating something. These rustic little grains also suck up and store flavours really well, a perfect medium for a deep, woodsy broth made from re-hydrating dried mushrooms.

It’s January, so I couldn’t possibly suggest such egregiously out-of-season ingredients like fresh shiitake and porcini mushrooms. Luckily, I subscribe to one of many traditions of drying mushrooms for over-winter use and have some of them handy for cooking. Both varieties can be found dried in most supermarkets all year round, and if you can’t sniff them out there, try your local Chinatown.

Finally, to give this bubbling brook and forest floor a bit of sunshine, a little julienned carrot marinated in rice vinegar and orange zest. Like a crunchy-citrusy electric current to balance all those heavy, buttery, oily tastes and textures.

Mushroom Orzotto (makes 2 servings)

Mushroom OrzottoIngredients

  • 60g Dried Shiitake and Porcini Mushrooms
  • 620ml (2.6 cups) Chicken Stock
  • 15ml (1 Tbls.) Olive Oil
  • 25g (2 Tbls.) Butter
  • 80g Shallots (around 3 ½ oz. minced)
  • 110g ( ½ cup) Pearl Barley
  • 40ml (1.3 oz.) White Wine
  • 6g Chives (finely sliced)
  • 10g (2 Tsp.) Butter (softened)
  • 60g (2/3 cup) Parmesan Cheese (finely grated)
  • Salt and White Pepper


  1. Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and rinse under cold running water for a minute or two. Get your hands in there and scrape away any gritty-bits and pour off all the brackish water that remains. Place the ‘shrooms in a clean bowl, cover with 200ml of hot water and place a deep plate on top. Dried mushroom have a tendency to float, so the plate will keep them under long enough to properly re-hydrate. After 2 hours the mushrooms should be ready. Strain the mushroom liquid into a bowl, set aside (this stuff is liquid funk!) and chop up the re-hydrated mushrooms.
  2. Simmer the chicken stock and the strained mushroom liquid in a pot over med-low heat.
  3. Heat the oil and butter in a separate pot over med temp and sauté the shallots until translucent (about 2 ½ mins). Stir in the pearl barley and cook 1 minute, coating all the grains in the butter ‘n oil. Splash in the white wine (fsssshhhhhh!) and stir until it has been absorbed by the barley.
  4. Time to go risotto… Ladle a big helping of the hot chicken stock into the barley pot and slowly stir it around. It takes between 2 to 4 minutes for the barley to absorb most of the stock, but you want to be there! Right in front of that pot! Once the moisture in the pot reduces down and the barley starts to catch on the bottom of the pot it’s time to add the next ladle… Making risotto is like babysitting, you have to be there to make sure nothing burns on the bottom, and know when to add the next ladlefull of stock. If everything goes according to plan the barley will reach a nice puffy “al-dente” texture just before you run out of stock (about 35 minutes).
  5. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the chives, butter and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.


Pan-Fried “Syunkon” Salmon with Tamari-Butter Sauce (makes 2 servings)


  • 2 x 180g (6.3oz.) Salmon Fillets (Skin-on, cleaned and pin-boned)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 15ml (1 Tbls.) Vegetable Oil
  • Tea-Smoking Bag made of Tin Foil (contains: Hickory chips, black tea, Sichuan peppercorns, orange rind, star anise and half a cinnamon stick)
  • 25g (2 Tbls.) Butter
  • 60g (about 2 ½ oz.) Shallots (minced)
  • 20g Fresh Ginger (a small nub, ½ the size of your thumb, peeled/minced)
  • 100ml (3.4 oz.) White Wine
  • 30ml (2 Tbls.) Organic Tamari
  • 30ml (2 Tbls.) Lemon Juice (1/2 a lemon)
  • Salt and White Pepper
  • 60g Butter (about 4 Tbls. cold, cut into small cubes)


(Wok-smoking isn’t as scary to do at home as you might think, but it is going to make your kitchen smell a little singed for a day or two. It’s best to fire up your exhaust fan and open up the windows, despite the cold outside.)

  1. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and sear in a hot non-stick pan skin-side down for 3 minutes. Don’t touch it! Don’t shake the pan or poke it… Or talk to it, or wonder what it’s thinking. It’s not! If you get impatient and start playing with fish, they flake apart or cook unevenly. Just let the pan do it’s thing and that skin will become wonderfully crispy.Pan Frying Salmon
  2. Once the skin has crisped, the flesh side has completely relaxed, and there is a ¼ inch pale line of “cooked-ness” underneath the skin… It’s time to turn it. Carefully flip the fish over and sear the flesh side 1-2 minutes, just enough to give the surface a nice tanning. Remove that hot fish from the pan immediately and let it rest on a small wire rack.
  3. The tea smoking bag is basically just a roll of tin foil filled with stuff that will start to smoke when heated up. It can be any shape you want, it just has to fit in your Wok and have some holes, or an “X” cut into the top to release the smoke.  Place the bag in a Wok and fire it up on med-high heat. Cover and wait until you can see the smoke start to leak out around the edges of the lid (about 2 minutes). Place the small wire rack with the salmon on it into the smoking Wok and replace the lid. Turn the heat down to low and let the salmon smoke for 1 ½ minutes. Once it’s done, get it ‘outta there!Wok Smoking
  4. Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat and sauté shallots and fresh ginger for 2 minutes. De-glaze the pan with the white wine, increase heat to med-high and reduce liquid by ½ (takes about 1 ½ minutes). Pour in the tamari and lemon juice and cook on a lower temp for another minute, then season and remove from heat.
  5. Add butter cubes one at a time and whisk constantly to emulsify the butter into the pan liquid (known, obscenely as “mounting the sauce”) this thickens into a shimmering sauce to serve with the salmon.


Carrot ’n Sesame Salad (Serves 2)


  • 30ml (2 Tbls.) Vegetable oil
  • 30ml (2 Tbls.) Lemon Juice (1/2 a lemon)
  • 10ml (2 Tsp.) Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp. Orange Zest
  • 2 medium Carrots (sliced thinly with a knife or a mandoline)
  • 1 small Spring Onion (thinly sliced)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Tsp. Roasted Sesame Seeds


  1. Mix together the oil, lemon juice, vinegar and orange zest in a non-reactive container. Dump the carrot slices into the container, mix well, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Drain carrots and save the vinaigrette. Serve mixed with the sliced spring onions and seasoned with salt ’n pepper as necessary. Drizzle a bit of the vinaigrette overtop and Garnish with sesame seeds.


Skeewiff Vs. KPMMusic To Cook this To:

Skeewiff – Skeewiff Vs. KPM

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