Cafe Salmon: We prefer using wild salmon, and we cook it often during its all too fleeting season. When pairing red wine with fish you need a fish with some richness, such as wild salmon, and a young wine with bright acidity to cut through that richness. Here we feature 2006 Youngberg Hill Winemaker’s Reserve Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley Oregon). Cooking fish in the wine or using it in the sauce as we do here, is sure way to create a felicitous marriage. The spice notes in the Pinot Noir — cardamom, clove and light pepper — are repeated in the sauce. If you are a fan of ginger, you can add a few shavings from a micro-planer to the sauce mix. And the caramelized shallots echo the wine’s sweetness. Don’t substitute onions, they yield different flavor notes.
2 salmon fillets (skin-on)
1 Tbls honey
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground peppercorns
1 tsp ground cardamom seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots finely diced
2 cloves garlic finely diced
½ cup Pinot Noir
1 tsp soy sauce
Marinate the salmon fillets, skin side down, in a small dish for several hours with honey and seasonings. Heat a skillet large enough for the fillets over high heat.
Once the skillet gets hot, add about 2 tbsp of olive oil to the skillet and let it heat up. Reduce heat to medium high, then add fillets, skin side down. Cook until skin is well browned and the bottom half of the fillets turn opaque, about 5 minutes. Turn fillets over. At this point (right after flipping over) the skin should be very easy to remove with fork and knife. Salt and pepper after you remove the skin and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add shallots. Turn the salmon over one more time and sear briefly, or until desired doneness is reached. When the fish is done, it should still show traces of bright orange when you peek inside the fillet with the tip of a paring knife. If center is completely opaque and the orange color is dull, the fish is overcooked.
Remove salmon from pan and keep warm. Continue to cook shallots and add the garlic. Increase heat to high and add lemon zest, wine and soy. Cook until reduced by 1/3, about 3 minutes. Place sauce in a small bowl and keep warm. Spoon over fish when plated.
8 Ounces organic local baby spinach (washed and dried)
1 Tbls finely diced garlic
1 small shallot finely diced
1 Tbls olive oil
2 Tbls butter
3 Tbls heavy cream
Use same skillet that was used to sear salmon and heat oil and butter. Add shallots and cook two minutes on medium high heat add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add spinach all at once and sautee using a wooden spoon to stir. When wilted add the cream and stir to mix. Divide spinach on warm plates in a mound about the size of the salmon filets. Place 1 salmon filet on each mound. Spoon reserved sauce over salmon and wilted spinach.