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Special recipes feature salmon's goodness

by VALLE NOVAK / Contributing Writer
| July 7, 2024 1:00 AM

It's funny how things happen. I received a packet from the Tabasco people the other day with a great salmon/pesto recipe and put it aside while I continued my perusal of a favorite cookbook I had rediscovered.

The book was bristling with little tabs I'd stuck here and there at some point in the past, and nearly every one marked a page containing a salmon recipe.

I needed no further persuasion from the cosmos, and so began compiling them for today's column. I only had to compile my favorites, a couple of "go-withs," and voila, a chef page to die for.

Well, hopefully not. My earnest hope is that you'll like some of these special offerings, most of which come from the most excellent "Recipes from the Vineyards of Oregon" (with a few personal alterations). It's compiled by Leslie J. Whipple and is available from Maverick Publications.


We'll begin with this dish, seasoned with Tabasco's green pepper sauce.

Salmon with Almond Parsley Pesto

1 cup firm-packed parsley

1 small clove garlic

2 tablespoons natural sliced almonds

1-2 tablespoons green pepper sauce

1 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound salmon fillets (or red snapper or sole)

Preheat boiler. Place parsley, garlic, almonds, pepper sauce and lemon juice in a food processor or blender; puree.

Gradually add olive oil until the mixture is smooth but not liquified.

Brush both sides of the fillets with the parsley mixture. Place the fillets on a lightly oiled broiler pan. Broil (turning once) for five to 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Serves four.


The Oregon cookbook also offers a salmon with pesto recipe, equally delectable but featuring pasta.

Pinto Pesto Salmon with Fettucine

Pinot Pesto:

3 cups fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or chopped walnuts

1/3 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup olive oil

Salmon

3 pounds salmon fillets

1 cup pinot pesto

1/2 cup pinot noir (or other light red wine)

Pasta

1 pound fettuccini (preferably fresh made)

1/2 cup pinot pesto

Prepare pesto: Combine basil, nuts, Parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Add olive oil in a thin stream until emulsified. Set aside.

Prepare salmon: Whisk together the one cup of pesto and the pinot noir until smooth. Place on top of the salmon fillets. Let stand for 15 minutes at room temperature. Grill under the broiler (or over a barbecue grill) for about 15 minutes or until just cooked (easily flaked with a fork). Salmon should still be moist inside.

Prepare pasta: Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Toss with the half-cup of pesto. Divide among eight plates and place a portion of salmon on each plate. Serves eight.


Salmon takes beautifully to grilling, boiling or even pan-searing. Here's a unique recipe that suits all three styles, but grilling is really best.

Marinated Salmon Fillets

1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup chardonnay

1 1/2 to 2 pounds salmon fillets

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add lemon juice and wine and heat thoroughly, but don't boil. Place the fillets in a shallow baking dish and pour the marinade over the salmon. Allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator for two hours longer, turning occasionally. Grill over medium-low coals (or by other methods), basting with marinade until done. Serves six.

Note: If your fillets have skin on one side, grill skin-side down, then turn and remove the skin (it will come off easily) and baste with marinade.


Salmon is also a great poaching fish. If you have a fish poacher, great. If not, any roasting pan will do. This is both elegant and delicious.

Poached Salmon with Ginger Wine Sauce

Salmon:

1 1/2 pounds salmon fillet

1/4 cup white wine (such as Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris or Grey Risling)

Put three inches of water in a roasting pan large enough to hold the salmon. Add salt and the wine. Bring to a boil on top of the stove and add the salmon. Cover with foil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until fish flakes easily, about 8 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness. Remove the salmon carefully and let it cool. Slice into six servings.

Sauce:

2 cups vegetable stock (you can use a little chicken stock if you desire)

2 cups of the white wine used for salmon poaching

10-12 thin slices fresh ginger

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups heavy cream

Combine the stock and white wine in a medium saucepan. Simmon over medium-high heat until reduced by half. Add the ginger, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10–12 minutes, tasting to check the intensity of the ginger flavor. Remove and discard the ginger.

Combine the butter and flour with a fork until smooth. Whisk into the simmering stock mixture. Whisk in the cream and simmer, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened; do not let the mixture boil. Sauce the cooled salmon and serve.


Here's another poached salmon recipe with a delectable pear salsa. This technique is a bit different from the first.

Poached Salmon with Pear Salsa

Salmon:

1/2 bottle pinot gris (or wines mentioned in previous recipes)

2 cups water

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

3 cloves garlic, minced

Fresh ground pepper

1 3-pound salmon fillet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Choose a roasting pan just large enough to hold the salmon. Pour in white wine, water, lemon juice and zest, garlic and pepper. Place the pan in the oven until the mixture begins to simmer, then place salmon into the broth and poach for about 10 minutes, or until the salmon is firm to the touch but not quite to the flaking point. Remove the fish from the oven and leave it in the poaching liquid until cool. It will be done to perfection.

Serve at room temperature with pear salsa. Serves about 10.

Pear salsa:

6 pears, peeled, cored and diced

1 T lemon juice

2 T olive oil

1 red onion, julienned (cut in thin, lengthwise strips)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup dried cherries

1 1/2 T brown sugar

1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. cardamom

Salt and pepper, to taste

Toss the diced pears with lemon juice and set aside. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until they begin to soften. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the pears and sauté until they begin to soften. Drain off any excess liquid. 

Add dried cranberries, cherries and brown sugar, stirring to mix; stir in vinegar, ginger, cardamom, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove it and chill. The pear salsa can be made a day in advance. Serve at room temperature.

While these recipes all showcase the versatility of salmon, it's probably at its best char-grilled and served with a little lemon and butter. In that event, serve it with some simple oven-roasted potatoes or another special side.

    Valle Novak