Suzi's Blog

Salmon with Mashed Peas and Tarragon Butter


The supply of salmon seems endless and almost all of us indulge on a regular basis. After all, if you go to a catered event, your choices generally are steak, chicken or salmon. And salmon is often the safe choice.

With safety can come boredom. It’s tragic that over time this wonderful fish can lose its magic. There are so many ways to serve salmon that it should always be inspiring. How to do that? It’s the sauce and the side. Here the salmon is stacked atop mashed peas and then adorned with herbed butter. You keep the salmon flavor, but anoint it with these accompaniments that make this dish lively to look at and then consumed with surprising pleasure. Yes, this dish is different.

Peas are one of the few food that you can freeze, defrost, and find yourself still with the original taste. Here the texture is transformed by mashing and the flavor is accelerated with onion and cream. The peas provides a lively nip on your palate and well complements the salmon proteins.

As the picture shows, you might as well go all-orange here. Pair this salmon with a side of sautéed carrots, either babies or slices. When you cook them, you can experiment with herbs and spices to match that tarragon butter.

Suzen often serves this dish now for her cooking classes at Cooking by the Book. It's a great recipe for team cooking or for your culinary club. The peas, the butter, and the salmon itself can all be divided out among your group so everyone is happily "employed." And, when the parts come together into that final dish, everyone can take pride. In the kitchen, you can both satisfy your stomach and brighten your soul.


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Oven Roasted Salmon with Cucumber-Sour Cream Sauce


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
  • β…“ cup dry white wine
  • β…“ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • β…“ 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

For Presentation:

  • 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