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Raising The Heat With Cool Soup And Trout Salad

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
July 7, 2013

San Antonio is no stranger to triple digit heat this time of year.

That’s why Jason Dady likes to keep it cool in the kitchen of his northern-Italian-themed restaurant called Tre Trattoria.

This time of year, the tomatoes and cucumbers are fresh, the veggies are bountiful, and Dady says it’s one of the season’s highlights to have fun with light and refreshing food.

For the gazpacho, Dady chops cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers, and adds some water. Then he blends it, a couple times.

With red wine vinegar, pepper for taste, and bread for thickness, Dady summons some tropical flavors for garnish – mango and avocado.

It’s so smooth a baby could eat it. And Dady’s not much on rules.

“Everybody asks the chef, what size, what’s the shape?” he says. “You know, it’s like, do you want to spend 15 minutes cutting your mango or do you want to spend….”

…15 minutes enjoying it?

“And that right there, fantastic, easy, quick, simple.”

Dady’s been in the restaurant biz for 12 years. He started out with his own restaurant at the age of 24.

“I could not convince people that I was actually the chef and the owner of the restaurant,” he says. “I was fortunate; I got a small business loan and worked my tail off. But I just always remember, no really, I am, no I promise, no seriously, I’m the chef.”

The smoked trout salad is high on the list of his summer favorites.

“This is one of those wild crazy things, that just comes-to-you-in-the-middle-of-the-night type of dish, you know?”

Dady recommends fingerling potatoes to make a smokey twist on a classic summer potato salad. But it’s all interchangeable and relaxed, both in measurement and ingredient.

“What type of potato do you use?” he asks. Then answers, “What looks best to you when you go to the market or you go to your store and you see something that just looks delicious. That’s what this dish is designed to do.”

For the smoked trout, Dady says don’t go to the store to buy oak chips.

“I think a lot of people spend, especially here in South Texas, spend a lot of money going and buying wood chips from the store when they can just go out to their tree and chip off a little bit of bark.”

He uses thick slices of bacon — southern comfort on a plate — chopped into chunks and fried. He chops fancy lettuce called fresee, and flakes trout on top.

Dady says with dishes like these, a cook could try new things, take a few risks.

“If people realize that they shouldn’t be afraid to fail when they’re cooking and it’s just about having fun and trying different things out.”

Recipe: Gazpacho

2 or 3 heirloom tomatoes, in season

Half dozen cherry tomatoes

Fennel, leafy part

1 cucumber

3 bell peppers (yellow, red, green)

Loaf day-old bread (like French bread)

Chop vegetables into chunks. Add tomatoes, fennel and cucumber to blender with a little water and garlic. Blend until it reaches desired consistency. Jason Dady likes his a little thinner, but a stew-like presentation is classic, too.

Add bell pepper — green, yellow, red — one of each or whatever you’re in the mood for.

Add to blender. While it’s going, add a little bit of red wine vinegar (or whatever vinegar you like — champagne, blood orange, etc.).

Chop day-old loaf of bread into chunks. This will help give the soup its thicker consistency. Add chunks to blender and blend.

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Make a simple relish of diced avocado, mango, salt, pepper and olive oil. Toss together gently.

Serve immediately at room temperature or chill. A classic gazpacho is served closer to room temperature — and that’s when tomatoes taste their best.

Serve soup with relish on top. Add sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Recipe: Smoked Trout Salad

Main Dish

Oak bark chips (for smoking the trout)

6 ounces trout

Frisee lettuce, or any type of lettuce

1/2 pound fingerling potaotes Dressing

Fresh lemon

Horseradish, 1/8 cup fresh grated or prepared

Sour cream, 1/4 cup

A touch of whipping cream

Mix above into a dressing

Start with the bacon garnish. Thick-cut bacon chopped into large chunks and cooked in hot pan to render the fat. Sear it and evaporate the water. Don’t mess with it a lot the first minute or so, so it starts to caramelize. Cook in smallbatches so it crisps up. Pour off the fat as it renders out.

Cut fingerling potatoes into half-inch coins and poach in simmering water for 15-20 minutes then turn the water off.

Flake the trout into chunks. Could sub smoked salmon or smoked sturgeon if you don’t want to smoke trout yourself.

Add fresh cracked black pepper to dressing.

Tear frisee lettuce and put yellow-green leaves on plate. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon oil. Top with potato-trout salad mixture.

Tobiko caviar — mix with olive oil and fresh lemon juice, drizzle overtop of salad.

Top with crisp bacon chunks. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

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