It was one of those rainy fall nights when the wind makes you grab a poncho rather than an umbrella. I was the last one in our group to get to Ten Mile House in Evanston, and by the time I arrived, everyone else was ready to order. After a quick look at the menu, I decided to go with the salmon lettuce wraps rather than the pizza I’d been thinking about as I drove. The dish is listed as a sandwich, but it would work equally well as a shared appetizer. Visuals are important, and this dish looks as good as it tastes.
Layered dishes are trendy, but all too often, the various components compete rather than complement. Think about the current predilection for topping burgers with layers of cheese, bacon, brisket, fried eggs, sauces and a garden of veggies. Bite into the sandwich (easier said than done), and while you know there’s a burger in there somewhere, it’s hard to actually taste it.
Chef Gregory Carter’s salmon wraps are a different matter altogether. While the dish is relatively complex, the components work well together. Salmon is the centerpiece; everything else plays a supporting role.
Carter cures the salmon, but only for an hour. When it’s ready, he puts wood chips on a sheet pan and then puts the pan in the restaurant’s wood burning oven. Once the chips start to smoke, he puts the salmon on a wire rack and lays the rack over the chips. Within minutes, the salmon is both cooked and lightly smoked.
Carter pairs the salmon with a tarragon aioli made with mayonnaise, sour cream, shallots, Dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, capers, and both fresh and dried tarragon. The aioli is typically drizzled over the salmon, but it can also be served on the side. Accompaniments include sliced avocado and a red cabbage slaw made with fennel, red onion, and red bell pepper.
In addition to being diet friendly, lettuce wraps are gluten free, which is a plus for a lot of diners. The lettuce of choice is typically iceberg, which is long on crunch and short on flexibility. Carter eschews iceberg and uses bibb lettuce instead, a variety that’s softer and better suited for use as a wrap. Of course, you can also eat the salmon with a fork, but it’s not as much fun.
Ten Mile House, 1700 Central Street, Evanston 847.905.0669
Filed under: Great Dishes