Saturday, August 11, 2012

Gulf Coast Faux BLT Salad with Mussels

I bring it back to the bottom of the map (Ooowee)
I bring it back to the bottom of the map (Ooowee)
I bring it back to the bottom of the map (Ooowee)
I bring it back to the bottom of the...
- Lil' Wayne

This salad is a homage to the U.S. Gulf Coast, the mysterious and quirky region at the bottom of the map.  While the Gulf is admittedly still reeling under the destruction of Hurricane Katrina and the recent oil spill, tourist and locals in many parts of the region continue to "laissez les bons temps rouler," otherwise known as, let the good times roll.  This is most evident in the food and passion for cooking throughout the Gulf.  After all, the Gulf is a region with an abundant food supply that also loves to eat.  Chef Mario Batali once exclaimed, "The Gulf Coast has the potential to create a culinary raw ingredient paradise that smart cooks can capitalize on."  I would most definitely agree and that's exactly why I thought back to the Gulf Coast as I created this salad.

Pork, fish, and shellfish were the first three ingredients that came to mind as I began to think of regional foods from the Gulf Coast, and I thought how much fun it would be to create a faux BLT salad with shellfish.  And viola... This salad is an explosion of flavor with smoky, garlicky charbroiled tofu, juicy green roma tomatoes, citrusy mussels, and crisp frisee and arugula lettuce tossed in a lemon and pecorino dressing.

Gulf Coast Faux BLT Salad with Mussels


  • 1/2 dozen fresh shucked mussels
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1 package smoked tofu
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely grated aged Pecorino
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 green roma tomato, cubed
  • 3/4 cup frisee lettuce, loosely packed
  • 3/4 cup arugula lettuce, loosely packed

Toss mussels in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.  Set aside.  

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to broil on high temperature setting.  In a small bowl combine liquid smoke and garlic.  Set aside.  Cut tofu in 1" thick rectangular strips.  Toss tofu in liquid smoke mixture and broil on a baking sheet for 4-6 minutes on each side until lightly charred.  Allow to cool and cut tofu strips into smaller pieces, about the size of bacon crumbles.  Remove from oven and set aside.  

In a mixing bowl, combine 1/4 cup water with lemon zest, lemon juice, and black pepper to taste.  Stir while slowly incorporating grated cheese to create a slurry-like consistency.  Finish with olive oil.  Add salt to taste.  

In a large bowl, combine salad, tomatoes, 1/4 cup of tofu, mussels and 2 - 3 tablespoons of salad dressing.  Mix to combine and transfer to a dinner plate.  

Servings: 1 with leftover salad dressing and tofu 

Salad dressing recipe from Lupa in Manhattan by way of GQ Magazine:

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