City Paper is not for tourists
The Dish: Cuban-spiced salmon
The Location: Chef Geoff’s, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, (202) 464-4461
The Price: $17.95
The Skinny: Foodies love to bitch that few things ruin the natural flavor of an ingredient faster than burying it in a high-concept dish. But let’s be frank for a second, all right? Concept or not, some of our favorite (even classic) entrees are smothered under cream-and-butter sauces thick enough to fill potholes. High-concept, ingredient-heavy dishes are not a crime; ruining an expensive piece of meat is.
Little more than a year ago, Chef Geoff’s Executive Chef David Pow was combing through a cookbook when he saw a classic mojito recipe. A thought struck him: He could create a mojito-based sauce. A second thought struck him: What the hell would he pair it with? The chef huddled with his former sous chef, a native of Puerto Rico, to develop the Cuban-spiced salmon, now a staple on the Chef Geoff menu. Pow rubs a blend of chili flakes, coriander, and cumin on top of a filet of farm-raised salmon, which he then sears in a pan and finishes in the oven to a flaky, moist consistency. The filet is placed on a bed of good, old-fashioned red beans and rice (accented with coarsely chopped green, red, and yellow peppers, along with shallots) and circled with a moat of mojito vinaigrette. As a final touch, two curls of fried plantain chips are draped on top of the fish. The minty, sweet sauce cuts the pungency of the salmon rub, while the plantains and red beans and rice provide a sort of starch sandwich around the salmon, which retains, I’m happy to say, all its flavor.