I am not a great one for New Year’s resolutions. I still recall with a wry smile the past patterns of early January days when the gym would be crowded and, by MLK Day, it was back to normal.
But turning a new food page is acceptable and, to that end, I hope to do the following this year: break tradition. By that, I mean that I plan to mix up typical flavor combinations and ingredients. I’ve attempted this with the salmon beurre rouge below.
It was inspired by a recipe from a chef I met years ago, who soaked and baked the salmon in a cup of heavy cream, and then made the sauce with a pound of butter. I felt like I would need an EKG after eating that, so I knew I had to make some adjustments. His dish was far too rich for my blood, but his tradition-breaking approach using red wine with fish tempted me.
I changed his recipe, lightened it up, and it was delicious. I hope to devise some other examples of this approach — maybe a hummus that integrates Chinese or Indian spices, a scalloped “potato” dish that uses turnips or butternut squash instead of spuds, a slaw that uses kale instead of cabbage … you get the picture.
We served this with brown rice, which was lovely as a bed for the delicious sauce, and put a simple green salad on the table. Bread, quinoa, white rice or even mashed potatoes would be a nice addition to sop up the surplus sauce.
The sauce is pretty rich, so we skipped dessert. But if you have a sweet tooth, go for something light and contrasting — lime sorbet or lemon souffle, some spiced cookies, a small nibble of dark chocolate. I would steer clear of creamy or dairy-laden desserts to avoid conflicting with the sauce.
Salmon Beurre Rouge
This recipe uses both the white and green parts of the scallions. The white forms the base and aromatic for the sauce, while the green serves as an insulator and flavor infuser for the fish as it cooks.
Because of the butter, kosher and kosher-style diners would only use this sauce with fish. It is a fairly robust and hearty sauce, so matches best with a sturdy fish like the salmon used here.
If salmon is not your jam, you can use another meaty fish like halibut, mackerel, mahi mahi or arctic char. Just avoid delicate types like flounder or sole, which can be overwhelmed by the sauce.
1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil
1 bunch scallions
1½ cups dry red wine
½ stick butter
2 salmon fillets, about
5 ounces each
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and pepper
Heat oven to 300 F.
Line a small pan with a piece of parchment that is large enough to fold over the fish into a lightly sealed packet. Place the salmon fillets in the pan, and sprinkle them with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Chop the white part of the scallions, and leave the green part in long strands. Place the green strands over the fish, covering it on the top and sides, then fold the parchment over the fish loosely, and crimp it into a packet. Bake it in the oven for 25 minutes until done.
While the fish cooks, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a skillet, and sauté the white parts of the scallions until they are fragrant and a bit soft. Add the wine and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer the wine until it reduces to a thick syrup, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat.
When the fish is done, remove it from the oven, and set it aside. Heat the sauce again, and add the butter, whisking it to form a silky sauce. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper, if needed.
Open the fish packets, and place the fillets in the sauce, spooning it over to coat the fish.
Garnish the fish with fresh parsley, chives or raw scallions, if desired. Serve and enjoy. PJC
Keri White writes for the Jewish Exponent, an affiliated publication where this first appeared.