M. Andrew Gordon

Pickled, or soused, salmon

In Dinner Party, Main Dish, Sauces, Seafood, Side Dishes on February 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm

As I went into the planning phase of last Saturday’s dinner, I kept coming back to a common theme: pickling.  It’s been a hot culinary topic of late, with numerous local restaurants offering house made pickles.  I have also been reading Momufuku, the eponymous book by chef David Chang, and there are a number of delicious looking pickle recipes in that book.  Chang is a fascinating chef and a real proponent of pickling.  In addition, I have been spending my spare time at Lena’s apartment reading East Coast Grill’s Chris Schlesinger’s book Quick Pickles which immediately won me over when I read about a pickled rhubarb that is recommended as an accompaniment for soft shell crab.  So pickling has been fascinating me of late.

One dish that I had been thinking about was a soused fish.  Generally, it is a white fish that is braised in a pickling liquid and or fried and then set in a pickle brine for some amount of time.  Neither of these were quite what I was looking for so, after consulting with the good folks at New Deal Fish Market when I was picking up the fish, I decided to brine some salmon, serve it over celery root puree, and top it with salt-pickled cranberries inspired by a recipe in Momufuku.  Sadly, it was so delicious I forgot to take a picture!  The dish was paired with Blue Point Brewing Toasted Lager, a fairly low alcohol lager with a nice crisp hop finish.

Soused Salmon – serves 10

  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle puree
  • 3 lbs salmon filet, cut into 10 pieces
  1. In medium saucepan, bring first five ingredients to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt.  Let cool.
  2. In a glass baking dish or other nonreactive dish, place salmon skin side up.  Pour brine over fish and gently lift each piece to thoroughly coat.  Cover with foil and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 425°F.  Drain salmon, wipe out dish, and place back in pan, skin side down.  Roast for 6-8 minutes or until fish is just starting to flake.
  4. Broil fish on high for about ½ to 1 minute, just until top of fish starts to brown.  Serve over celery root puree and top with salt pickled cranberries.

Celery root puree

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 lbs celery root (about 4 medium roots), peeled and chopped
  • 1 quart milk
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 sprig sage
  1. In medium skillet, melt two tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Add onions, turn to coat, and reduce heat to moderate.  Cook, stirring infrequently, for 20-25 minutes or until onions have caramelized.
  2. In large saucepan, combine celery root, milk, garlic, and sage.  Bring to a boil and simmer for around 25 minutes or until celery root is tender.  Discard garlic and sage.
  3. In skillet, heat remaining butter over moderate heat until the butter begins to brown and starts to smell nut-like.  Remove from heat.
  4. Over medium bowl, strain celery root, reserving milk.  Place half the celery root in a food processor with the browned butter and the caramelized onions.  Puree, adding some of the reserved milk mixture by the tablespoon, until the mixture is smooth.  Mash the remaining celery root with a hand masher and combine the mashed with the pureed celery root.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Salt-pickled Cranberries

  • 1 cup cranberries, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  1. Combine cranberries, sugar, and salt.  Stir thoroughly to mix and let sit for 30 minutes before serving.
  1. Pairing for this was exceptional! The fish picked up some buttery notes in the beer (sounds odd but very true). Delicious.

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