By Riki Shore
I’ve been lucky enough to eat at the Lazy Ox twice in recent weeks and, although my bank account has suffered, my food inspiration has definitely ratcheted up a notch.
One of the mind-blowing dishes I ate there was simply described on the menu as seared fijian albacore with lentils, bacon & apple. I detected syrupy balsamic vinegar and kumquat; the waiter told me there was bacon and pickled apple; and there was definitely a shaving of fennel and what seemed like a golden raisin. It was a complex dish, hitting all the right notes with tastes familiar and beguiling.
I came home jazzed at the prospect of replicating at least some of the flavors in the dish in a simplified mid-week version for the home cook.
The balsamic was easy enough with a balsamic vinaigrette. Canned yellowfin took the place of the seared albacore (although you could substitute fresh fish with dynamite results). Shaved fennel, pickled apple and bacon slivers weren’t too hard to achieve. The lentils were delicious, but since I don’t eat too many legumes, I substituted salad greens.
You won’t be disappointed if you make this dish exactly as its written. But since I created it from inspiration, I hope you’ll do the same and turn this salad into your own favorite. If you do, leave a comment and let me know how it turns out.
These pickled apples are straight from David Chang‘s Momofuku cookbook. They’re easy to make, but they start to go mushy after a day, so make them the day you plan to eat them. If you have extra, fine-dice them and sprinkle them on pork or chicken.
1 crisp apple, such as Pink Lady
1 cup water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
1. Wash and dry the apple. Slice thin wedges and place them in a clean glass jar with a tightly fitting lid.
2. Place the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt.
3. Pour the brine over the apples and place the lid on the jar. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until you’re ready to use them later in the day.
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 – 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Place mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a glass jar with a tightly fitting lid. Cover the jar and shake vigorously to combine the ingredients.
2. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and shake to emulsify. Taste and add more olive oil to suit your taste. (I use the smaller amount since I like the sweetness of the balsamic to dominate.) This dressing keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
1. Drain the tuna and mash into small pieces with a fork.
2. Trim the top of the fennel bulb, and trim the bottom if the woody core is protruding. Remove any tough or browned outer leaves. Slice the bulb in half vertically, then slice each half very thinly, no more than 1/4 inch thick. Stack these slices and cut them into very thin slivers.
3. Slice the pickled apples and cooked bacon into 1/4 inch strips.
4. Arrange the greens in a big salad bowl. Top with tuna, fennel, pickled apple and bacon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dress the salad with the balsamic vinaigrette and enjoy.