Alaskan Chinook Salmon En Papillote

Salmon Challenge #5: Wild Alaskan Chinook en papillote (in parchment paper) on mushroom-pine nut purée and garnished with Alaskan shrimp.

I got the idea for this recipe in A. J. McClane’s North American Fish Cookery, a thin volume of just over 100 fish and shellfish recipes. In his day, McClane was perhaps the most well-known contemporary name in angling literature and journalism and was a gourmet chef to boot. Now 31 years old, this book is very much worth having if you can find a copy. McClane used petrale sole in the original recipe. Salmon was the first of several modifications I made. I would have loved to have had sherry for the mushroom-pine nut purée, but the miso soup used instead gave it a very nice flavor.

To make two servings you will need two oven-proof plates and two sheets of parchment paper large enough to cover the plates. A pair of charger plates to set the hot plates on when they come out of the oven are a nice touch.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound fillet of wild salmon, cut in half. Skin on or off is cook’s choice. I leave the skin on in virtually all recipes.
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, chopped coarse
  • 1/2 cup sweet onions, chopped coarse
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup miso soup flavored fairly strong
  • 1/2 tablespoon dry tarragon
  • ground black pepper
  • sea salt
  • soy sauce
  • sherry (optional – to add to mushroom-pine nut purée while sautéing).
  • carrot sliced into julienne strips – enough to place a few on each fillet without overwhelming the fish
  • shrimp peeled and deveined, 2 to 5 for each fillet, depending on size of shrimp. Other garnishes could include thinly sliced lemon, julienne squash, shellfish (small oysters, shrimp, scallops, mussels, crab meat), or fresh herbs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

2. Rinse the salmon fillets, pat dry with paper towels, sprinkle with ground pepper and sea salt and set aside.

3. Very briefly sauté the julienne carrots in olive oil and a little soy sauce, stirring continuously till just limp but still crunchy. Remove from skillet and set aside.

4. Prepare 1/2 cup of strong miso soup and set aside.

5. Place about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for a minute or two. Add the mushrooms, garlic, pine nuts, tarragon, a few grinds of pepper and sea salt. Add the miso soup. Sauté till liquid is mostly evaporated and ingredients are cooked through. Set aside.

6. Purée the mushroom-pine nut mixture in a food processor or blender. If more liquid is needed, add a small amount of water and olive oil.

7. Arrange one sheet of parchment paper on each ovenproof plate and put a little olive oil in the center (where the purée will go) to prevent sticking.

8. Spread half the purée on each sheet of parchment paper. Place salmon fillets atop the purée. Top the salmon with julienne carrots and shrimp.

9. Seal parchment paper by crimping or folding ends together and folding under.

10. Bake on plates on center rack for 20 minutes.

Try this exceptionally flavorful entrée with a glass of Champagne.

If you like this post you might also like:

Salmon Calzone

Wild Alaska Sesame Seed Salmon

Alaska Silver Salmon Pizza

Salmon Burgers with Caesar Slaw

Wild Alaska Salmon Lox

Salmon Pesto Ravioli

Pine Nut Encrusted Halibut

A fillet of Resurrection Bay, Alaska halibut in a homemade mayonnaise and sour cream mixture, encrusted with chopped pine nuts and almonds and served on a bed of mixed brown and wild rice. Broccoli is one of the few vegetables we can consistently obtain in good shape in the bush.

I was recently looking around online for the next great place to call home. A top priority for both of us is a place where we can harvest our own fish. With that in mind, as I looked at coastal waters and lakes in other states, it was with a keen eye not only toward some of our preferred fish species (walleye, crappie, perch, striped bass, salmon), but also with an eye toward each state’s fish consumption advisories.

What a shock. In locale after locale, the advice from state departments of natural resources is to limit one’s consumption of local fish. Mercury and PCBs are the chief culprits, but in some places there are other chemicals in the stew. Even DDT remains a problem in some areas. The prospect of living in a place where warnings are to limit one’s consumption of fish to one meal a week–or a couple meals a month–is depressing. (We really hope they keep the Pebble Mine out of Alaska!)

Glad to live in a part of the world where the near-shore fish are still healthful enough to enjoy as often as one cares to. We generally have meals featuring salmon, rockfish or halibut two or three times a week.

There’s nothing to the above halibut dish. In a glass bowl I mixed together equal parts homemade mayonnaise and sour cream. I wanted to add a dash or two of cayenne pepper for a pleasant kick, but having none used a prepared Thai seasoning mix instead along with a couple of grinds of black pepper and a healthy squeeze of lemon juice. I spread this mixture on a halibut fillet, then covered the sauce with chopped pine nuts and almonds, and baked for 15 minutes at 375 degrees in a small, preheated casserole dish in which I had melted butter. Make sure to check while it’s baking to avoid scorching the nuts. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil if the nuts are becoming overly done.

By the way, if you’ve never made mayonnaise, it’s easy–and kind of magical. There are no shortage of instructional videos on the Internet.

Cooking in the Alaska Bush: Salmon Pesto Ravioli

Flash frozen just after being made, these ravioli are ready for a few brief minutes in boiling water.

Is it really worth making your own pasta?

That’s what we wanted to find out. So when we shipped staples up to our home in Point Hope this summer, we included a 25-pound bag of semolina flour and a CucinaPro manual pasta machine. And we eschewed buying the bags of dry pasta from Costco that have been standard in our kitchen for the past several years.

The verdict? It’s definitely worth it, provided one has the time–which, happily, we do. That being said, with each batch of linguini or ravioli we turn out, we are becoming more efficient. Two sets of hands make the work easier and faster, and the pasta itself is amazing! The flavor is superior to store-bought dried pasta, it cooks up in a fraction of the time, and the variations one can create are limitless.

Below is a salmon-based ravioli filling we recently created.

Salmon Pesto Ravioli

½ pound salmon, pan-fried in olive oil, skin on

1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning. Morton & Bassett or Spice Hunter offer tasty mixes.

1 ½ tablespoon garlic, chopped fine

2 tablespoons finely chopped pine nuts

¼ cup mushrooms, chopped fairly fine

a few grinds of black pepper

¼ cup – 1/3 cup pesto

Olive oil

Sherry (optional–no sherry for us out in the bush)

1. Place cooked salmon in a glass bowl. (Remove skin and cut it into small pieces and add for maximum flavor.)

2. Combine chopped pine nuts, garlic and mushrooms in a small bowl and set aside.

3. Heat a little olive oil in a small frying pan. Add pine nut, garlic and mushroom mixture, and sauté until cooked through, stirring frequently–about 2 to 4 minutes. Add to salmon in bowl. Include the oil in the pan. (Add Sherry while cooking mixture, if desired.)

4. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl. Use a fork to mix thoroughly, breaking up the salmon. Add additional olive oil, if needed, so that mixture holds together. Cover and place in refrigerator for an hour or more.

5. Use mixture as ravioli filling.

6. Serve ravioli with a lightly seasoned marinara sauce or with an olive oil topping, such as onions and sun dried tomatoes sautéed in olive oil.

Finish with grated Parmesan cheese and perhaps a couple of grinds of black pepper. A Willamette Valley Pinot Noir would be the perfect complement. Another good choice would be Chardonnay.