Brent Calley
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Recipe by Brent Calley, executive chef, Porto Vista Hotel

I remember being at my grandfather’s house on vacation. I was about ten. Every night he would ask me what I wanted for dinner and then he would make it. It didn’t matter what I asked for, he could do it. He made stuffed rack of lamb and some of the best panzanella I ever had in my life. He made poor man’s shish kabob, which was whatever you can find in your fridge with whatever spice you had and the cheapest red wine you could buy. He was from the Depression era and couldn’t afford steak. Mostly he used ground beef and made it taste great. I watched him cook and he let me help. My grandfather was pretty amazing. He was an inventor, a hairdresser, a missionary. You name it, he’s done it. He told me, “Don’t stick to just one kind of food,” and that advice stayed with me.

At age 13, I took every home-economics class I could at school. I used my allowance to buy cookbooks. I ruined a lot of my parents’ food and got yelled at a lot for it, but I didn’t care. I got my first job as a dishwasher when I was barely a teenager. It was at a small bar-and-grill, and the owners were friends of my family. I washed dishes on weekends and watched the line as much as I could. I became a prep cook and moved up the line and was flipping eggs when I was 14. I loved playing with food. Still, I feel like a kid on the playground whenever I go to work.

By the time I was 19, I was a sous chef at an Ann Arbor restaurant called the Gandy Dancer. I busted my butt there and was the youngest sous chef ever. From there, I became a catering chef. I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could. For every chef I worked for, I told them that the day I stop learning something new was the day I put in my notice.

One of my philosophies here is that if you don’t learn something from me, then don’t work for me. As a chef, my job is to teach all my cooks. I am a strong believer in that. I have been doing this for 23 years. Every day I learn something new. Every day there’s a new invention to make cookies better. You can make caviar from kelp now, if you can believe that.

This miso-glazed salmon is great anytime and it’s easy to do. I go to the farmers’ market every week and get what’s fresh to serve with it. Personally, I like this served with hot jasmine rice and sautéed or roasted vegetables. I like to sauté the cooked rice with a bit of garlic, ginger, and shallots and then serve with the vegetables and fish plated on top and drizzled with some of the Cara Cara orange vinaigrette.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4

miso marinade

  • 2 oz. white miso paste
  • ¼ cup mirin
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice-wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped lemongrass (can be purchased at Whole Foods Market)
  • 4 8 oz. pieces of salmon

Cara Cara orange vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 2 tbsp rice-wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp chives, chopped
  • ½ tsp shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

HOW TO DO IT

In the blender, combine the miso paste, mirin, soy sauce, rice-wine vinegar, sesame oil, and lemongrass. Blend until smooth. Pour the marinade over the salmon and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. After the salmon has marinated, heat a large ovenproof skillet and place the salmon skin-side down in the hot pan. Place the hot pan in the oven for 15 minutes to cook.

To make the vinaigrette, mix the first four ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil until it is well incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Plate the cooked rice with the vegetables on top. Place the salmon on top of that. To finish, drizzle a bit of the vinaigrette over the rice, vegetables, and fish.

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