I hope you enjoy the food!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Salmon with Roasted Tomato Salsa, Creamed Corn and Virtual Bacon Dust

When we use the term "virtual" what exactly do we mean?

The Merriam Webster Dictionary gives the following definitions for virtual:

- being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted

- of, or relating to, or using virtual memory

- being on or simulated on a computer or computer network......

Wikipedia gives a definition that I like:

Virtuality, the quality of having the attributes of something without sharing its (real or imagined) physical form.

So bearing this all in mind, I kind of felt that in order to prepare last night's meal I should perhaps be donning a lab coat and protective eyewear, rather than the usual apron!

Virtual Bacon Dust???  What exactly is it?  What is it made of?  We have been bouncing the term around a little in Thermomix circles of late, as it is a recipe that is featured in the new Dani Valent Cookbook.  What exactly is it though?  I must say my interest was piqued when Madame T mentioned to me that we might be able to make it in an upcoming cooking class.  My hand shot up immediately!!  I'll make that!!!  As it turned out, it wasn't allowed for the that particular menu, but I was not to be deterred.  I decided I would add it to my own personal menu for the weekend!

The ingredients came as a little bit of a surprise, as did the results.

I am going to give you the recipe as it is printed.

Virtual Bacon Dust
Recipe by George Calombaris, printed in In The Mix Cookbook, by Dani Valent

100g brown sugar
100g sesame seeds
100g dashi

Preheat the grill - if you have a temperature setting - to 150 degrees

In a bowl combine the brown sugar, sesame seeds and dashi powder.

Line a baking sheet with baking paper.  Spread the mixture evenly over the prepared tray.

Place under the grill, stirring whenever it starts to caramelise.  After each stir, spread the ingredients as thin as possible to ensure they cook evenly.

When the mixture has caramelised, set aside to cool completely.

When cool place in the Thermomix bowl and blend for 20 seconds on speed 10.

Note:  This caramelises very quickly.  You need to stay close by, and stir often.

Unless you are catering for "The Press Club" or plan to eat this with "virtually" everything for the next 6 months, I highly recommend halving the recipe!!!

What I found amazing was the transformation that occurred with these ingredients.  I wish I had taken a before and after shot.  On the baking tray you had this mixture which looked like - what it was - sesame seeds and bits of burnt sugar, but after processing - it changed colour - to a, well, cooked bacon colour!  I took the lid off and exclaimed - WOW!  Stuck my finger in, tasted it, and said OMG - it tastes like bacon!!!

So what would you use this on?  A garnish for soups - such as pumpkin, cauliflower.  Sprinkled on scrambled eggs, caesar salads, green salads.  Grilled chicken - for that BLT flavour.....I guess the list is endless.  George pairs it with a decadent pumpkin soup.

I chose to make my own creamed corn, and of course garnished it with the virtual bacon dust.

Creamed Corn
Adapted from recipe found in Good Food Magazine, March Edition

Serves 4-6

6 corn cobs, husks and silks removed
100g light cooking cream
15g butter
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the corn cobs in a large saucepan of boiling water for 20 minutes.  Drain, and cool the corn until it is cool enough to handle.  Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the cobs.  Place the kernels in the TM bowl.  Add the cream, butter and salt and pepper.  Process on speed 9 for 20 seconds, or until creamed to desired consistency.

To heat up, cook for 9 minutes at 100 degrees on Reverse Speed 1.

Roasted Tomato Salsa
Adapted from recipe found in Good Food Magazine, March Edition

400g tomato medley mix, large tomatoes, halved
250g cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt flakes

Preheat oven to 200 degrees (fan forced).

Combine all the above ingredients in a disposable foil baking tray.  Roast the tomato mixture in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are nice and soft, and split, when slight pressure is applied.

For the salmon, I am going to suggest an alternate method than what was offered in the magazine.  I found that the salmon cooked their way, was too dry for my liking.  I think that I would almost rather pan fry the fish totally.  Cooking skin side down first for 3-4 minutes, or until the skin is brown and crispy.  Then flip over and cook the other side for 3-4 minutes, or until cooked to your liking.

This however, is what they suggested:

Pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Rub with oil, and season.  Heat a frying pan on high.  Cook skin side down for 3-4 minutes, until skin is brown and crispy.  Turn and cook for 1 minute.  Transfer salmon, skin side up to a baking tray that has been lined with baking paper.  Cool slightly.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

When you place the tomato salsa in the oven place the salsa on the bottom shelf, and the salmon on the top shelf.  Cook for 10 minutes.

I found that the 10 minutes was not enough for the tomato mixture, and too much for the salmon!  You decide your method of cooking - but I know what I will do next time around!!!

So how was it??  Well the creamed corn with the bacon dust was great - in fact it would make an excellent breakfast food, alongside a lovely poached egg, and some homemade toast.  How smug would you feel about that!!

The salsa and the salmon - a lovely combination.  So all in all, a wining combination!!!

While it did look like a big meal, with components that were a little on the naughty side - the scales still dropped this morning!!!!  So it couldn't have been too bad!!


  1. Well...you learn something everyday. I had no idea. I wonder why they call it virtual bacon when it doesn't look like bacon and I'm sure it wouldn't taste like bacon. But...the meal sure does look delicious!

  2. This blog is making me hungry!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I really must give that a go! Virtual bacon dust huh? Love it! :D

  4. I love that you made your own creamed corn! Takes me back to when I was a child! yummmm

  5. Please excuse my ignorance but what is dashi and where can I buy it? I would love to make this.

  6. WoW!! That is amazing, I will have to give this a go.

    Who would have thought you could get "bacon" from those flavours :) Well done.

    BTW, take a look at the story up on my blog, there are still tickets to be given away and I would love to meet up with you at the event. xx