Pride is not necessarily a sin. You can be proud of that child making the honor roll. Or proud your college team had a winning season after six straight years of … Well, you understand.
The greatest pride that Suzen and I have is when we make dish and then just have to pause to look at it before digging in. When you create something that looks spectacular, that’s an achievement. And a little pat on the back is well deserved. You can pat your tummy later, after consumption.
This is a perfect summer main course. It calls for oven roasting, but you can easily shift to your barbecue if you desire. A late summer night’s meal of fresh salmon is a treat you can become addicted to.
This dish offers everything you could want: intense flavors, visual contrast, hot and cold elements, and — above all — one of those flavor combinations [salmon, sour cream, and cucumber] that seems to have heavenly ordination.
In the background of the picture, you can see that we served this with sautéed greens and rice. You can pair this salmon with salads and side dishes of your choice. The salmon, hearty and spicy, is going to dominate the meal. And that frosting of Cucumber-Sour Cream Sauce will offer an intriguing layer of additional flavor. Did I say frosting? Yes, because this dish is so pretty and so good it might as well be dessert.
Well, I am not trying to say here that if you make this dish you should not have dessert. I would never, never impose such a standard on anyone.
Certainly not on myself.
Although the sauce in the picture looks simple, it is not. Made with arugula and spinach leaves plus mustard, besides the sour cream and cucumber, the sauce has body and complexity that let it complement the salmon. The sauce does not compete with the salmon but it is not overwhelmed by the fish.
The salmon itself develops that pictured thin crust you see from a healthy coating of soy sauce, wine, and orange juice. The crust does snap at you but only pleasantly. And the sauce is there to sooth the whole experience.
After intense salmon, think of ice cream with rich dairy to coat your mouth and erase lingering flavors notes. I’ve tried this combination many times. It works. You can ask my wife.
If you need an ice cream recipe that is unsurpassed, look for tomorrow’s post.
Oven Roasted Salmon with Cucumber-Sour Cream Sauce
Yield: serves 6
For the Salmon:
- 6 six-ounce salmon fillets with the skin on
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Cucumber Sour Cream Sauce:
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
- 1 ½ cups baby spinach leaves (packed)
- 1 ½ cups arugula leaves (packed)
- 1 shallot, roughly chopped
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup hothouse cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
- Chopped chives, scallions or herbs of your choice
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. [Or your barbecue grill!]
For the salmon, in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish place the wine, orange juice and soy sauce. With a paring knife, score the salmon skin by making an "X". Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place in the marinade flesh side down. Cover, turning occasionally and set aside.
For the sauce, place the spinach, arugula and shallot in the bowl of a food processor and finely chop. Add the sour cream and mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cayenne and process until blended. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the cucumber, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Remove the salmon from the marinade shaking off any excess liquid. Transfer the salmon to the baking sheet skin side down, sprinkle salmon with salt. Roast salmon in the oven until fish is opaque in the center, about 10 to 12 minutes.
To serve, transfer salmon to serving plates, top with a generous dollop of cucumber-sour cream sauce and garnish with chopped chives or scallions or herb of your choice.
Source: Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2003
Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5.6 for 1/100th second at ISO‑1600
In your first taste you will know that this soup is something special, something deliciously special. This soup has a dreamy quality: some body, yet still thin, the subtle flavor of cucumber but layered with melon, and an underlying tang that you may recognize as yogurt + crème fraiche. Or you may just sit there with your mouth pleasantly filled.
The soup seems pillowy soft. The contrasting salsa has crunch and heat. This is a ying-yang dish par excellence.
The first thing you think about when you taste this soup is how quickly you can secure a second helping. You won’t be thinking about the rest of the meal. About that protein scent in the kitchen: chicken, or steak, or … No, you’ll be focused on enjoying a flavor combination — cucumber and melon — that you may not have experienced. And I suspect the ratios of ingredients here, with the inclusion of yogurt and crème fraiche, is something you’ve never enjoyed before.
As grand as the soup is, I’m intrigued at how you might tinker with this recipe. No great changes, but adding some scallions or diced onion, a dash of vinegar, some fresh herbs,… All these changes will have impact, for this soup is first and foremost delicate. So, if you opt to personalize, do so with a light hand. I suggest you start with this basic recipe, because it’s truly perfect. I’m just suggesting that, as any foodie would do, you might be inspired to make a better perfect.
Chilled Cucumber-Melon Soup with Radish-Mint Salsa
Yield: 6 cups
For the Soup:
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt [not Greek yogurt]
- 3/4 cup crème fraîche
- 1 medium seedless hothouse cucumber
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1 small clove garlic
- 2 cups very ripe honeydew or galia melon
For the Radish-Mint Salsa:
- 8 radishes, julienned
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Sprinkling of snipped fresh chives
- A small dollop of yogurt or crème fraîche
For the soup, in a blender, puree 3/4 cup each plain yogurt and crème fraîche, 1 medium-size seedless hothouse cucumber, in chunks, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1 small clove garlic, crushed through a press. Pour into a bowl.
Add 2 cups very ripe honeydew or galia melon to blender; puree. Add to cucumber mixture and stir to combine; chill.
For the salsa, julienne 8 radishes; combine in a bowl with 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper. Stir in olive oil.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with radish salsa, a sprinkling of snipped fresh chives, and a small dollop of yogurt or crème fraîche.
Source: Frank Melodia
Photo Information [top]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5 for 1/25th second at ISO-3200