04 April 2007
Mandoline Chronicles, Cont'd
Purchase mandoline slicer.
Fail miserably while trying to slice cabbage.
While practicing mandoline skills, accidentally slice finger. Note to self: always use hand guard.
Become proficient at slicing cabbage with mandoline slicer!
Celebrate by moving on to fennel.
You may remember a distraught post in February when I was desperately seeking online instructions on how to use my new OXO mandoline slicer to shred cabbage. The post sparked a list of comments with people either voicing similar frustrations or offering tips about how to use the mandoline. Contributing to the comments were two employees of OXO, including the president of the company himself. The OXO folks showed genuine concern for the customers who were unsatisfied with their product, gave some suggestions for proper usage, and then posted information about contacting OXO for mandoline lessons.
I would like to say thank you to everyone who offered advice, and thank you to the people at OXO for making the effort to reach out to your customers and make sure we are happy with your product.
I would also like to say that while I am still not a mandoline expert, slicing is getting easier after heeding the advice from readers. After a few months of practice, and only one injury, which was due to my own carelessness, I can now shred cabbage! It turns out I was doing it all wrong. Only an idiot like me would grab the whole head of cabbage and just start slicing it whole. The secret, unbeknownst to me the time, is to cut the cabbage into quarters and then start slicing with the cut side against the blade.
If you reached this post because you did an online search for tips about using a mandoline, I have compiled everyone’s suggestions into a brief list that will save you the time of going through the comments on the other post. If you have anything to add or change, let me know and I will revise the list.
One more thing…Gretchen, the first of the OXOs to respond to the post, has a beautiful 2 ½ year old boy who has recently been diagnosed with a cancer called Neuroblastoma. Liam will have to go through some aggressive treatment with a relatively long recovery period. His family is chronicling his story at Prince Liam the Brave. Visit their site if you have a moment. Or many moments, because you will want to keep reading on and on about this amazing little person and what he and his family are going through. Oxo created a donations page if you are interested in helping the family.
Tips for Using a Mandoline Slicer
1. Experiment with different types of pressure. Vegetables like cabbage will require a lighter touch, while other vegetables like carrots need heavier weight.
2. Keep the pressure consistent as you slide the vegetables through the blade, even though it goes against your instincts to force your hand quickly towards such a sharp edge.
3. Wet the panel that the vegetable slides along. Some vegetables are inherently moist, and they self-lubricate the panel with each swipe, but other foods are drier and may not glide as smoothly towards the blade.
4. If the hand guard is difficult to control, purchase a fish fillet glove at a sporting goods store, or any glove that will protect your fingers against the sharp edge.
5. If you are slicing cabbage (this is the information I was searching for a few months ago), cut the cabbage into quarters and slice the cut side against the blade. If you are slicing fennel, cut off the bottom, slice the bulb in half, and then slice.
Olive Oil Poached Salmon with Fennel-Orange Relish
~adapted from Bobby Flay
4 salmon fillets, skin removed
Salt and pepper
2 cups pure olive oil*
Fennel & Orange Relish:
Pinch of saffron (I omitted this for financial purposes and it still tasted delicious)
1 head fennel, outer layer removed, halved and thinly sliced (yay, mandoline!)
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and pepper
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 oranges, segmented
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (can also be used for cocktails)
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons fennel frond
Season salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. Place in a large high-sided sauté pan and cover with olive oil.
Turn the flame to medium and let the salmon gently poach in the oil until just cooked through, 15-20 minutes. The oil’s temperature should be below the boiling point. You should be able to keep your finger submerged in the oil for a few moments.
Remove the salmon from the oil and drain on paper towels. Serve with the fennel-orange relish and top with a fennel frond.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place saffron in a small bowl and cover with a few tablespoons of hot water, let sit 5 minutes to bloom.
Combine the fennel, 3 tablespoons of the oil and the saffron, along with the soaking liquid in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a roasting pan and roast until just soft, stirring occasionally, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cook slightly then transfer to a large bowl.
(Since I omitted the saffron, I just drizzled the fennel slices with oil and roasted them almost dry. They browned a little bit but I think it enhanced the flavor of the relish.)
Stir in the red onion, oranges, pomegranate molasses, honey, lemon, parsley and season with salt and pepper.
*The oil can be re-used. Since the cooking temperature is so low, the oil's structure does not break down. I plan to recycle mine. I'll let you know if everything I sauté tastes like salmon.