Thursday, August 21, 2008

salmon supper

Have you ever had really fresh wild salmon? Like right off the boat? I did last weekend, and it was like tasting salmon for the first time. Julie's boyfriend Jonas spent part of the summer working in Alaska and came back with a freezer full of fish. They brought over a deep red filet as long as my arm last Friday night, and we all shared a huge meal—curried deviled eggs, yogurt dip and pita chips, orzo, and some amazing cheese and locally-made dark chocolates that Julie brought as well. (Julie's an especially generous dinner guest, if you couldn't tell already.)

But the salmon. It had a velvety, melt-in-your-mouth texture and a surprisingly mild flavor—not an oily, fishy taste like most of the salmon I've eaten before. We could have just thrown it on the grill plain, or even eaten it sashimi-style, as Julie and Jonas have been doing, but I dog-eared a recipe for pan-roasted salmon with sauteed tomatoes and capers from the new issue of Food & Wine (which is really good, by the way) and thought it was the perfect opportunity to try it out.

Salmon supper:
Pimms Cups
Curried deviled eggs
Spiced yogurt dip with pita chips and crudite
Cheese and cured meat

Pan-roasted salmon with tomato vinaigrette
Orzo with brown butter and parsley
Spinach, green apple, and parmesan salad with lemon vinaigrette


Pan-roasted salmon with tomato vinaigrette
The sauce in Ted Allen's recipe via Food & Wine, isn't so much a vinaigrette as a chunky sauteed salsa of grape tomatoes, capers, and shallots. The tomatoes bring out the sweetness of the salmon, but you could easily substitute tuna steaks or cod. Be sure to use an oven-proof pan for this recipe, as you have to cook it in the oven for a few minutes.
(Serves 4)

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 tsp. drained capers
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 7 oz. center-cut salmon fillets with skin (ours were more like 5 oz.)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. minced parsley
1 tsp. chopped basil
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°. In a bowl, toss the tomatoes with the shallot, capers, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. In a medium ovenproof skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet, skin side up. Cook over moderately high heat until well-browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip the fillets. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the salmon is cooked through, about 7 minutes. Transfer the fish to plates and pour off any fat in the skillet.

Place the skillet over moderate heat and add the tomato mixture along with the cumin, canola oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook, scraping up any bits stuck to the skillet, until the tomatoes just soften, about 2 minutes. Pour the sauce over the salmon, sprinkle with the parsley and basil and serve immediately.

Orzo with cinnamon brown butter and parsley
This aromatic side dish inspires people to hold their plates up to their noses and guess what's in it. It's just cinnamon and a little parsley, but the brown butter gives the dish more complexity and a rich flavor.
(Serves 8 people)

1 pound orzo
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil (I usually omit this)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook orzo in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until tender. While orzo cooks, melt butter in a small heavy skillet over moderately low heat, then simmer until golden brown with a nutty aroma, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, then stir in oil (if using), cinnamon, and pepper.

Drain orzo in a colander, then return to pot and add brown-butter mixture, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, and parsley. Toss until combined well and season generously with salt.


Cold Cuts said...

That orzo was delish!

Daniel said...

Julie, do you remember the names of the cheeses you brought? They were especially awesome.


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