Arabic culinary influences can be noticed in Italian, French and Spanish cookery. European culinary influences can also be noticed in North African cookery. The Mediterranean region has always been a haven for fusions of cultural cuisines. Ancient trade routes, invaders, conquerors and civilizations that have long since disappeared have all influenced the cuisines in this region.
In modern times, the global mass media, tourism and international trade all influence Mediterranean cuisines and vice versa. Chefs in North Africa and Southern Europe design food that will appeal to tourists. Creating an entrée for visitors that has an easy to recognize featured ingredient that is prepared with local cooking techniques and accompanied by local food items, in essence is a means for introducing neophytes to a cultural cuisine.
A globalized Mediterranean cuisine entrée may feature a popular protein from a foreign land that is prepared with classic simple techniques. For example, featuring something like salmon in a modern Mediterranean style entrée is not unheard of, because salmon is frozen and shipped worldwide. Farmed salmon is abundant, so it can replace local Mediterranean fish species that may have sustainability issues, while generating interest in visiting tourists that long for something familiar to eat.
Every plate of food has a story to tell and this intangible factor generates customer interest. Many countries from foreign lands have attempted to colonize and occupy Egypt and North Africa. The culinary influence origins act as reference points to certain periods in history and a customer that is aware of these factors may look at a plate of Mediterranean food then read it like a history book. One hundred years from now, the age of mass media globalization, international shipping and jet aircraft tourism will probably be looked upon as just another invasive cultural influence that left its mark in the cuisines of the Mediterranean region and vice versa.
Today's Balsamic Salmon Steak a la Griglia with Moroccan Spice Couscous recipe is a good example of globalized tourism cuisine that is designed to create interest. The recipe actually is basic, so guests will find it easy to recognize. This is a nice summer season entrée that has flavors that will inspire some interesting table conversation!
Marinated Balsamic Salmon Steak:
This recipe yields 1 portion.
The salmon should be marinated for less than one hour, or the Balsamic Vinegar will negatively change the character of the fish flavor.
Step 1: Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of Modena Balsamic Vinegar in a small container.
Add 2 tablespoons of dry white wine.
Add 2 tablespoons of water.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
Step 2: Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
Add 2 pinches of rosemary.
Add 1 pinch of oregano.
Add 1 crushed garlic clove.
Add 2 teaspoons of minced onion.
Stir the marinade ingredients together.
Step 3: Select a 6 to 8 ounce salmon steak.
Trim the belly flap sections off of the steak. (Save the fatty belly flaps for other recipes.)
Step 4: Place the salmon steak in the marinade.
Refrigerate for 1 hour. Occasionally flip the salmon in the marinade.
Moroccan Spice Couscous:
This recipe yields about 3 cups. (2 generous portions)
Step 1: Place 2 cups of water in a small sauce pot.
Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic paste.
Add 1 teaspoon of minced onion.
Step 2: Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
Add 1 pinch of rubbed saffron.
Add 1 pinch of cinnamon.
Add 1 pinch of mace.
Add 1 pinch of clove.
Add 1 pinch of cumin.
Add 1 pinch of ground fennel.
Step 3: Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper. (optional)
Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
Step 4: Place the pot over medium heat.
Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
Step 5: Add 3/4 cup of small fine couscous. (Millet Grain Style Couscous)
Stir the ingredients together.
Return the liquid to a gentle boil.
Step 6: Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
Add 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
Stir the couscous.
Place a lid on the pot.
Allow the couscous to gently steam and absorb the liquid.
Step 8: Keep the couscous warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.
Balsamic Salmon Steak a la Griglia with Moroccan Spice Couscous:
This recipe yields 1 entrée.
I always suggest cooking salmon till the center temperature is 145ºF (fully cooked). Only salmon that has undergone the deep freeze process for sushi is safe to eat medium rare.
Step 1: Heat a chargrill (or cast iron ribbed griddle) to a medium/medium high temperature.
Brush the grill with vegetable oil.
Step 2: Remove the salmon steak from the marinade and place it on the grill.
Grill the salmon steak till it is fully cooked. Try to flip the salmon, so it cooks evenly and cross-check grill marks appear.
After the salmon is fully cooked, set it aside to rest for one minute.
Step 3: Use a 4" wide ring mold to place a generous portion of the Moroccan Spice Couscous on the center of a plate. (About 1 1/4 cups)
Use a spoon to press the couscous into the ring mold.
Remove the ring mold.
Carefully place the grilled Balsamic Salmon Steak on top of the couscous.
Step 4: Sprinkle 1 pinch of chopped Italian Parsley on the plate.
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of small chopped red bell pepper on the plate.
Garnish the salmon with a thin sliced lime curl.
Serve with a vegetable of your choice on the side.
This is a great tasting Mediterranean style salmon entrée!