Mighty Good Recipe: Salmon Tartare

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As many of you know, I REALLY like salmon.

So, when Steve Shuler donated a pound of Wild Copper River King Salmon (from Peninsula Processing and Smokehouse) to my cause, who was I to say no? This particular salmon is some of the best of the best–soft and  flavorful with just a gorgeous shade of orange. And rather than grill or even broil the salmon, I decided to keep things ultra-simple and eat the fish raw.

Looking to add just a few simple ingredients to subtly enhance the fish, I found this tartare recipe from bon appétit.

Feel free to ballpark all of the measurements, erring on the side of a cautious heavy hand. You’ll find the finely diced jalapenos and cucumbers add both a crunchy texture and layer of freshness to the fish, as does the shallots. And like every great recipe, this one calls for a decent amount of fresh cilantro, which is never a bad thing. If your salmon has been in the refrigerator, it is very important to place it inside the freezer for 20 minutes. This will firm-up the fish, allowing you to cut it in chucks with a very sharp knife.

Make no mistake, this salmon is not cheap and is only available at certain times of the year, but if you’re looking to make a big splash with dinner guests or just want to treat yourself to a magnificent dining experience, I highly recommend ordering some of this fish and utilizing a tried and true tartare recipe.

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Buzz Word: Three-Pound Porterhouse at Doe’s

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BUZZ WORD is back! Each month, a word is posted over on The Mighty Rib Facebook page, followed with a request for reader suggestions centered-around the term. One of the suggestions is randomly picked, dish is eaten, and a review is written.

This month’s BUZZ WORD was “steak.”

As expected, many folks weighed-in on this one. Some suggestions would have downright bankrupted me…see Arthur’s.

Thankfully, Doe’s won out.

You know Doe’s, the Little Rock landmark/institution that’s still just as famous as any restaurant in town. But guess what? I’ve only eaten there once, and only ordered the fried shrimp and tamales. Yes, don’t laugh, this was my first time to eat steak at Doe’s. For the past year or so, a buddy of mine has been pestering me to order the steak. “Shalin, just go to Doe’s, order the 3-lb Porterhouse and get it medium rare. Just do it.”

And that’s exactly what I did.

A Porterhouse is a thick-cut, monster-sized piece of meat comprised of a t-shaped bone that separates two sections of the meat—the larger short loin and the smaller tenderloin.

So we ordered the 3-lb. Porterhouse ($19.95 per pound), which came with fries, buttered toast and soaked salad. The steak was served family-style, and, along with the accompanying side dishes, comfortably fed our lunchtime table of four. What stood out was the no-frills simplicity of this steak. It’s as primal of a meat-eating experience as you’re going to get in a restaurant. The slab of meat is broiled and then brought to the table soaking in its own deliciously fatty juices.

One bite and it’s obvious why this steak is so damn popular. That combination of the crispy charred crust and tender, medium-rare meat is what separates this steak-eating experience from so many others. There was just the right amount of fat laced throughout the meat, providing for a rich buttery flavor, and a soft texture throughout.

Truthfully, I’m not a lover of steak. The biggest compliment I can give Doe’s is that I not only loved my Porterhouse, but I honestly can’t wait to go back and do it again.

This Little Rock landmark lived up to the hype.

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Oatmeal Cream Whoopie Pies Have Arrived

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When I was 12 years old, I vividly remember tearing open a box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pies. One by one, I devoured the tasty treats with such gusto and determination. An hour later and eight mini pies in my stomach, I was done. The ensuing tummy ache was well worth it.

But unfortunately, that experience marked the end of my oatmeal pie-eating days. I had pushed it to the limit, much like a child who’s been forced to smoke a pack of cigs in the back shed, never again did I even look at an another oatmeal pie.

That was until last week, when I paid a visit to the brand spanking new Pie Shop at Terry’s Finer Foods. This new endeavor, the brainchild of Palette Catering owners Jeremy and Jacquelyn Pittman, offers up a wide variety of pies, including: rhubarb, German chocolate, dark chocolate raspberry, peanut butter banana cream, broccoli cheddar, and of course … an oatmeal cream whoopie pie.

Guess which one I got? That’s right … I ended my 24-year hiatus and purchased the oatmeal cream whoopie pie.

For lack of a better expression, this thing looks like a Little Debbie’s on steroids. A plentiful layer of creamy icing is smashed between two rich, thick oatmeal cookies. The cookies are about two inches in diameter, but don’t let the smallish size fool you.

After just two glorious bites, I had to wave the white flag. This deliciously gluttonous dessert ($6) is ideally for two. But if you’re flying solo, I highly recommend nursing this bad boy, taking a few nibbles over an extended period of time.

My bulging gut tells me these oatmeal cream whoopie pies will have somewhat of a cult following in our town.

Just don’t overdo it.

*Photo courtesy of Little Rock Foodcast

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The Dish: The Pantry Does Comfort Food Right with the Roasted Pork Shoulder

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I have a quest to work my way through The Pantry’s entire menu, which apparently, given their execution on a variety of dishes, seems to be none too difficult of a task.

On a recent visit, I settled on the Roasted Pork Shoulder ($12.50). This well-composed plate included a pile of thinly sliced shoulder meat resting alongside three hunks of Czech potato dumplings and a pile of braised red cabbage.

The blending of flavors, due in large part to the pool of red cabbage juice seeping into the other components, is really what elevates this dish. The dumplings are meant to be thick and somewhat under-seasoned, a vessel to capture the burst of tanginess injected from the cabbage. The slightly overcooked pork also benefits from the pool of juice originating from the plate’s lone veggie.

Make no mistake, compartmentalized eaters should shy away from this dish; the magic lies in getting a little of everything on each forkful… and this is exactly my kind of eating!

Like most dishes at The Pantry, the Roasted Pork Shoulder represents hearty comfort food that fills your belly without putting a dent in the wallet.

The restaurant continues to consistently serve up dynamite cocktails, shareable appetizers (like the bacon-wrapped dates and truffle deviled eggs) and traditional entrees under an umbrella of top-notch service and a cozy atmosphere.

I wonder what I’ll order next time around. Maybe the Fish & Frites.

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