Grilled Asian Salmon Salad/Off Color Apex Predator/Astral Mass “Astral Mass”
Yeah, we know. What’s a salad doing on Stoner Rock BBQ, right? Want to hear something funny? We did a quick search to see when we last featured a salad, and do you when that was? How about never. We were shocked, I mean we grilled some peaches back in 2013 and stuffed them with blue cheese to SERVE with a salad, but as far as featuring an actual salad? Nope. Never. The same could actually be said for tonight’s meal as it really is all about the salmon that gets a sweet and spicy glaze during its time on the grill. We do our best to make the veggie portion of the meal equally as appetizing, though, by tossing baby spinach in a homemade sweet Asian mustard vinaigrette that gets topped with grilled root vegetable “noodles”. We pair up this light, fall salad with the incredible Belgian-style ale Apex Predator from Chicago’s very own Off Color Brewing. There’s nothing light about what we’ve got cranked up on the stereo, the new slab of sludge metal from Indy’s Astral Mass.
Grilled Asian Salmon Salad – Healthy, quick and tasty; that’s the name of the game tonight. This whole dinner start to finish takes about 15 minutes. Let’s start with the dressing for the spinach salad, we’ll whip it together and toss it in the fridge to let the flavors meld while we’re knocking out the rest of the meal. In a small bowl add 1 fresh minced garlic clove. The liquids that go in next consist of 1/2 cup each of dijon mustard and rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 tablespoon of horseradish and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Whisk or shake well.
As long as we’re in sauce making mode, let’s knock out the sweet and spicy Asian glaze for the salmon. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup of a spicy, high quality BBQ sauce with a tablespoon of sweet chile sauce and teaspoon each of soy sauce and sriracha. Mix well and set aside.
With the sauces/dressings made, we can venture out to the grill to tackle the rest of the meal. We need a medium/hot fire in the grill and then we’re going to set a grill pan on top of the grate. Now, we’re starting with these root vegetable noodles which our local supermarket carries in the fresh produce department. If we had to make these noodles ourselves, well, this recipe would just be a salmon spinach salad. As it were though, we toss the root vegetable noodles in sesame oil then toss them into the hot grill pan for about 8-10 minutes until just barely softened and slightly charred.
The last thing to cook are the salmon filets. We went with a little thinner filets for this salad that we brush with olive oil then season generously with black pepper.
These go down on the grill and go for about 3 minutes before we flip over and glaze with the sweet/spicy sauce.
We continue to flip and glaze every minute or so for the next 3-5 minutes until the glaze is sticky and almost burnt onto the exterior. We can remove the fish and place directly onto a bed of baby spinach that has been dressed with our mustard vinaigrette.
To finish off the salad, we top the salmon with a handful of the veggie noodles and add a seaweed crisp as the finishing touch. The result was a perfectly balanced sweet/spicy/tangy contrast between the salad and the salmon that had us coming back for more after every bite.
Off Color Apex Predator – Chicago’s Off Color Brewing has been around for awhile and is fairly widely available throughout the area but has managed to stay off the radar of most well known Chicago breweries. This is a mystery to us considering how good their beers are, especially tonight’s feature; Apex Predator. It’s a farmhouse ale in the Belgian-style that pours a super cloudy, almost murky yellow with a slight head. The aroma is citrusy and full of earthy yeast. The flavor profile is more that of a Belgian IPA with a tangerine-like sweetness that hits the tongue first followed by a wallop of hops before ending with the more traditional Farmhouse tartness. It’s an incredible beer that transcends many styles while at the same time making it a completely unique drinking experience. It was also light enough to not overpower the rather light salad, complimenting it rather nicely with its balance of sweetness and tartness.
Astral Mass “Astral Mass” – It’s been really cool to see Indy’s Astral Mass’ rise in the scene the last couple of years; sharing the stage with some big names going through town and now in the midwest as a whole. Their fanbase is ever growing and now they’ve got their full length to reach the (pardon the pun) masses. Having lived down there for a bit, we got to see their killer live show a couple of times which they have amazingly captured on disc on this self-titled release. The opener “Matter Smasher” is an apropos title, punching the listener square in the eardrums with its heavy southern sludge metallness. “Cosmic Sting” is the first carryover from their 2016 EP “All Systems Go” EP and it sounds even better if that’s possible. It’s still a raw, heavy, sludgy piece of metal that also grooves quite a bit. “Desert Planet Ritual” is both the heaviest and trippiest tune on the album mixing hardcore with psychedelia flawlessly throughout. The instrumental “Clear the Tower” is the next carry forward from their EP which leads the way into the seven and a half minute “Apollo’s Hand”, a slow, jazz influenced doom song. “Rise Armada” is the final carryover from the EP and it still retains its slow, groove-heavy sludge in perfect form. The album’s swan song is ‘Jovian Winds”, a song that picks up the pace considerably from the preceding tracks. Its got a killer guitar town right off the bat that contributes to the infectious riff that is the backbone of the song that is raw like early Stooges. It’s the perfect closer to a great album.