Dear SOS: I dined at American Fish in Las Vegas at the Aria hotel last weekend and enjoyed the best Caesar salad ever. Absolutely perfect, white anchovies with the perfect garlicky Caesar dressing. Any chance Michael Mina would give up the recipe?
Dear Max: This is Mina's spin on an American classic. It's really terrific, with a medley of flavors and textures that add up to a bright harmony. The white anchovies called boquerones are pickled in vinegar and can be purchased at Spanish markets such as Harbor City's La Española.
American Fish's Caesar salad
Total time: 1 hour
Note: Adapted from American Fish in Las Vegas. Instead of the oil-cured olives suggested below, the restaurant assembles the salad with dried black olives, drying black (Taggiasca or Kalamata) olives in a 225-degree oven for 6 to 8 hours (depending on the size), then chopping.
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
2 egg yolks
Juice from 1 lemon
1 cup olive oil
1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon chopped capers
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
3 salted anchovy fillets, rinsed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with the lemon. Slowly whisk in the oils, 1 teaspoon at a time, constantly whisking until the oil is emulsified to make a mayonnaise. This makes about 2 cups mayonnaise.
2. Using a mortar and pestle, or chopping and crushing with the side of a knife, combine the capers, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and anchovy fillets to form a paste.
3. Stir the purée into the mayonnaise until thoroughly combined, then stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This makes about 2 cups dressing, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the remaining dressing will keep for 2 to 3 days, covered and refrigerated.
Oil for frying
1 tablespoon drained capers
In a small saucepan, heat 1 to 2 inches of oil until a thermometer inserted reads 350 degrees. Add the capers and fry for 30 seconds. Drain on a paper towel, then season to taste with salt.
16 slices French baguette, very thinly sliced on the bias
Salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the baguette slices with the oil, then lightly sprinkle over salt and pepper. Place the slices on a baking sheet and toast until crisp and golden, about 4 minutes.
Salad and assembly
4 heads Little Gem lettuce, or 4 hearts of romaine
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 cup Caesar dressing, more as desired
16 lemon segments, from 2 lemons sliced into 8 wedges each
8 white anchovy fillets (boquerones), halved crosswise
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped oil-cured black olives
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1. Quarter each head of lettuce lengthwise, and toss the wedges with the lemon vinaigrette and chopped parsley.
2. On each of 4 plates, spoon over a light base of Caesar dressing, then top the dressing on each plate with 4 lettuce quarters.
3. Garnish each wedge with a crouton and lemon wedge, and top each crouton with half of an anchovy fillet. Sprinkle over the chopped black olives, fried capers and Parmesan cheese evenly over the 4 servings. Serve immediately.
Each serving: 534 calories; 9 grams protein; 17 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 48 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 40 mg. cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 718 mg. sodium.
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