Friday, June 4, 2010

salmon snob


I am a salmon snob.  Fresh not frozen, wild not farmed, King not Sockeye or Coho, etc… I blame this snobbery on my Alaskan upbringing.  King salmon was something you caught, not bought.  Although many Alaskans will eat or even prefer other salmon species, I would rather abstain than sacrifice.  For this reason, I prepare salmon just once a week; although I would happily eat it every night if it were free as opposed to setting me back upwards of twenty dollars a pound.

These days, I am trying to come up with new ways to cook it.  When I was growing up, the preparation was either sweet, with brown sugar, lemon and butter; or savory, with dill, salt, lemon and butter.  Teriyaki was another frontrunner.  The salmon of my youth was typically barbequed or broiled and never strayed far from its original state.  It is hard to make King salmon taste bad but harder still to come up with new ways to prepare it.

Fish tacos have shown up in several food magazines as of late and after gleaning from the glossy cover photos and skimming through the recipes, I came up with my own version.  You will most often find halibut or cod in fish tacos but I decided to give salmon a try.  King, of course.

I first prepared a slaw with shredded Napa cabbage dressed in lime juice and Maldon sea salt.  I set that aside to pickle while I prepared a buttermilk crema by whisking together buttermilk, crème fraiche and lime juice.  The crema would be drizzled over the taco filling.  The best store brand tortillas I have found are white corn tortillas from La Tortilla Factory.  They taste positively homemade.  I wrapped those in foil and put them in the oven to warm at 350 degrees.

Organic fish taco seasoning doubles as a rub which I applied before searing the the salmon in a hot pan with equal parts butter and extra light olive oil.  A few minutes on each side and the salmon was done and ready to cool while I finished the rest of the prep.

Organic black beans warmed on the stovetop as I crumbled cotija cheese to sprinkle over them.  Cotija is a bit like the Mexican equivalent of feta.  It is salty, pungent and very crumbly.  Cilantro was then chopped and set aside.  The avocado and tomato were cubed and tossed together with lime juice and sea salt.  I used a fork to break up the salmon into smaller chunks, removed the tortillas from the oven, set out all the taco fixings and dinner was on the table.

Wine pairing:  The Jack 2007 – A Columbia Valley Red

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