One of our forever favourite restaurants and a worthy addition to the Best of Toronto is Skippa, a modest but top quality Japanese eatery that serves delicious sushi along with other innovative small plates. The dishes are inspired by southern Kyushu cuisine, formulated by the skilled hand of chef Ian Robinson, whose credentials include apprenticing under Toronto’s premier sushi chef, Matsuhiro Kaji.
In recent weeks, due to the lockdown situation, Skippa has been offering up a delectable takeout menu, as well as some specialty ingredients for cooking at home. We picked up a batch of their shiso pesto, caramelized miso, and maitake mushrooms to prepare this yummy dish of grilled salmon. Incidentally, we also tried out a new technique on the barbecue, cooking the salmon on cedar planks.
Servings: 2 | Prep time: 30 minutes | Ready time: 30 minutes
- 2 salmon fillets
- 1 cup maitake mushrooms, broken into pieces about double bite size
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons shiso pesto
- 2 tablespoons caramelized miso
- 1 sprig of thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cedar plank soaked in white wine
Prepare the salmon.
1) Get the cedar plank ready for use by soaking it in a shallow pan filled with your choice of white wine, for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Dry and set aside. Preheat grill to 400 F.
2) Marinate the flesh side of the salmon fillets in a thin layer of shiso pesto, for up to 1 hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3) Place fillets skin side down on the cedar plank. Cook on grill with lid down for 20 minutes, until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 130 F.
While the salmon cooks, prepare the maitake mushrooms.
4) Preheat oven to 450 F.
5) Heat a cast iron pan to medium heat. Add vegetable oil into the pan.
6) Lightly oil and salt/pepper the mushrooms, and add to pan. Sear for 5 minutes, without moving the pan, to allow a crust to form. Using tongs or chopsticks, flip mushrooms to sear the opposite side.
7) Place cast iron pan and mushrooms into the oven for 5 minutes.
8) Remove pan from the oven and turn heat down to 400 F. Baste the mushrooms with a thin layer of caramelized miso. Place the pan with mushrooms back in the oven for 1.5 minutes. Repeat process two more times until the mushrooms have a thick layer of sauce and are slightly charred.
9) Lay the mushrooms flat on a plate. Sprinkle with thyme.
Prepare your meal.
10) Remove cooked salmon from grill. Split into portions and add a dollop of shiso pesto on top. Divide the maitake mushrooms between each plate. Serve with a dinner bun and other sides as desired.
👨🍳 Notes from Mr.Chuckles
The package from Skippa also included fresh radishes, to be tossed in a lemon/oil mix and served alongside the maitake mushrooms. There was miso butter as well, which spread deliciously on a dinner roll.
Obviously, the key ingredients of this dish were the featured shiso pesto and caramelized miso; unfortunately, we do not have Skippa’s secret recipe. Shiso is a green leafy herb that is commonly used in East and Southeast Asian cuisine, a little difficult to source but possibly accessible at your local Asian grocer. You could perhaps substitute this for the basil in a standard pesto recipe.
When cooking with miso, keep in mind that it is already naturally quite salted, so consider skipping the extra salt and just add pepper to taste.
As for the salmon cookery, we used Vermont Castings cedar planks that we found at Canadian Tire. Plank grilling is an easy barbecue technique that involves simply cooking the food on a wooden board set over indirect heat, allowing the dish to soak up a deep, wood-smoked flavour. Fish is the most common pairing, but other meats and vegetables can be prepared on a cedar plank too.