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Between Takes: Hiroshi and Heather
We didn't want you to miss out on the helpful tidbits that float freely between takes. Here's what Hiroshi and Heather were talking about during the video shoot...
The asparagus season is a month and a half long in the spring.
White asparagus does not get sunshine or chlorophyll so it stays white. Purple asparagus is exposed to the sun for just a couple of days.
Freshness is determined by looking at the tops of the asparagus. The tops should be firm, dry and compact, not slimy or "wet". The cut ends should be a bit wet, not brown. Open the bunch to make sure they are all good in the group.
The white asparagus is more bitter than the green. Buy small white asparagus; the big ones are tough. (Green asparagus comes in pencil thin, medium and big; these are all good) Using a peeler, shave/peel twice around the stalk to get to the silky stem; this will make it sweeter. Hold the stalk flat against the cutting board as you peel; if you hold it vertical, it can snap in half.
Use the top portion of the asparagus and down about 3/4 of the length. The bottom portion towards the cut stem is stringy.
When asparagus is out of season, it's fine to use the canned and jarred pieces for soups, salsas, purees and soufflés. You can even use white canned asparagus to make ice cream.
Out of season, salmon can be dry.
The Renaissance Orlando Resort at SeaWorld changes their menu according to which foods are in-season.
Hiroshi used pink salmon steaks. Salmon has the good fats. When cooking with salmon, use light sides; you don't want anything too heavy or oily.
Buying red onions: make sure the bottom and top are firm, not soft. The skin should be tight with the layers, not falling off. The smell should be fresh. If the top is long, that means it is old. Onions make the blood thinner.
Buying salmon: Scales should be intact. Smell should be sweet, not fishy and a bright color.
Drizzle olive oil and a little salt over salmon at least 3 hours before cooking or overnight. Turn over so that both sides are coated with the oil. Use French sea salt, it will gently melt into the fish. You can remove any excess crystals after it has marinated, so it won't be too salty. Hiroshi says you only need 6 grams, or 1 teaspoon of salt a day, so use it wisely.
You'll see Hiroshi using gloves, but many home cooks use them as well. You can purchase these in some supermarkets or drug stores.
Grilling salmon on an inside burner: Cook 15 minutes, rotate a quarter turn (gives nice grill marks) and cook for 15 minutes. Gently turn over, cook 15 minutes, rotate a quarter turn and cook for another 15 minutes. When cooking on an outside grill, be careful, as it gets hot very quickly. Squeeze a little orange or lemon juice and low sodium soy sauce over fish. It will give it a little crustiness as it sears into the fish.
When cooking meat, there is a "spring" to the meat that lets you know it is done.
Different minerals in each ocean make sea salts taste different.
Cooking asparagus: Use approximately 1-teaspoon natural Chinese sea salt. Makes a milder flavor. Cook for about two minutes for a sweeter flavor. Then rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. When you grill the asparagus, you don't need to rinse. Older asparagus will show itself while it cooks. Shouldn't be brown; just a nice green. A good dipping sauce is made of mayonnaise, soy sauce and garlic - you can add wasabi if you like.
White asparagus needs to cook a little longer. And the color will turn a little golden with a yellowish cast.
Heather: Consumers have more power in the supermarkets than they realize. Look at your vegetables, get to know your butcher, smell the fish; you're the one buying it!
Let knuckles guide the knife for safe chopping. See video of technique.
Debone salmon after fish is cooked. If it's undercooked, the bone will not come out easily. See video for technique of deboning. Hiroshi uses picks to remove bone; the small point of the pick removes just the bone without grabbing onto the meat. Leaving the skin on while it cooks also retains the moisture. Once cooked, the skin will come off very easily. Hirsohi used a salmon steak, not filet for the dish he prepared.
For salsa, flavor is just as important as the color combination. Don't hesitate to add more of ingredients you like. Hiroshi likes to use the salsa as soon as it is made, for topping the salmon. Otherwise, marinating it over night will enhance and meld the flavors.
A good aged balsamic vinegar has a much deeper flavor.
Hiroshi used crepe shells to hold the salsa. You can purchase these already made up in the supermarket or use sushi wraps.