Fall food themes continue with this pièce de résistance fit for a king. Chinook salmon holds center stage drizzled with herbed butter and served on butternut squash ravioli. Food stylist extraordinaire Barbra came up with the idea of rolling shaved parmesan into tubes.
With plenty of sockeye salmon harvested, cleaned and packaged in our freezers, it nonetheless wasn’t a case of “coals to Newcastle” when a friend offered up a couple fat fillets of Chinook. Reds, pinks, chums and silvers – they’re all welcome at our dinner table any time. But kings… with their higher percentage of healthful fat and their decadent melt-in-your-mouth texture… kings are special. With a batch of butternut and ricotta ravioli in the freezer courtesy of Barbra, I knew just what I wanted to do with one of the fillets. This was as fine a meal as we’ve ever enjoyed. (Barbra promises the pumpkin/squash ravioli recipe will be posted soon!)
This dish goes particularly well with Brussels sprouts, a vegetable we especially appreciate out here in the Alaska bush because they ship well and have a long shelf-life in the refrigerator. Our favorite cooking method is to cut the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise, toss them in a bowl with olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper, and then place them cut-side down in sizzling olive oil in a frying pan. Turn the heat down (but make sure they’re still sizzling) and cover the pan. Check, and when the cut side has browned, flip the sprouts to the leafy side. Turn up the heat a little to get things really sizzling again, then turn it back down to a little below medium and cover the pan. The leaves will brown up and caramelize and a few will blacken. They’re ready to be served.
Pan-Fried Salmon with Herbed Butter on Butternut Squash Ravioli
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 1-pound fillet of any wild-caught Pacific salmon, skin on
- sea salt
- black pepper
- (Optional) mirin or white wine – just a little
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 or 2 shallots, sliced fine
- 1/2 tbsp tarragon (dried) or 1 tbsp fresh
- 2 servings worth of ravioli stuffed with pumpkin, squash, mushrooms or light cheeses
- parmesan cheese, grated or sliced, to garnish
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Prepare ravioli per directions, timed so that it’s ready when the salmon is ready.
- Rinse fillet, pat dry with paper towels and cut into two portions. Inspect for pin bones, which can easily be pulled out with a pair of kitchen pliers. Sprinkle with sea salt and a little black pepper.
- Add a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil to a frying pan and turn to a little hotter than medium heat. When oil is ready to sizzle, carefully place fillets in the pan skin side up. Add just a splash of mirin. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, till meat is seared.
- Turn salmon over so that it is skin side down. Add another splash of mirin. Turn heat down to just below medium, cover. A general rule of thumb for fish is to cook for about 8 to 10 minutes per inch of thickness. When white substance appears on fillet, it is cooked through. Avoid overcooking.
- Meanwhile, over medium-low heat, melt butter in a small pan. Add shallots and tarragon and sauté just long enough to soften the shallots and release the tarragon’s aroma.
- Serve ravioli and arrange salmon on top. Spoon on herbed butter.
- Serve hot with a couple of fingers of your favorite bourbon.