Tag Archives: Food Preservation

Smoked Salmon and White Asparagus, Sour Cream and Vattlingon

Salmon-Asparagus-Sour Cream4

There is so much fantastic looking salmon in the market this time of year. Asparagus is also all over the place. Recipes combining these two lovely spring ingredients can be found in many books, sites and on restaurant menus. This recipe based on one from the book Neue Cuisine: the Elegant Tastes of Vienna by chef Kurt Gutenbrunner uses salmon that gets lightly smoked and serves it with the classy white asparagus and a sour cream sauce. It hits all the right buttons. The flavors are harmonious and robust and the plated dish looks refined even though it is very straightforward to prepare.

Salmon Curing

The fish is cured lightly and then smoked. You really do not need a major rig to hot smoke a few pieces of fish at home. I use an old wok following a method that I learned years ago from Barbara Tropp’s book China Moon Cookbook. To smoke the fish (or Chinese-style steamed duck or chicken) put a rack that fits in the wok but remains several inches above the bottom. Oil the rack a bit so the meat does not stick and then put the meat on the rack. Put in some wood chips in the bottom of the wok and any other aromatics you like and allow them to start smoking over high heat. Close the wok with a tight lid and smoke the food as long as needed over medium heat. That’s pretty much the exact process chef Gutenbrunner uses in this recipe. The salmon takes maybe 20 minutes or so.

Salmon-White Asparagus

 

Salmon Smoked

Before smoking the salmon I wanted to make sure it comes out well seasoned and juicy so I cured it lightly. All that means is that I sprinkled the fillets with a mixture of salt and sugar, about a third sugar and two-thirds salt. These then sat for about 30 minutes as I prepared the rest of the meal. I then rinsed the fish and patted it dry. It’s amazing that in only thirty minutes the difference can be both felt and seen. The fish is firmer and has a nice gloss on it.

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I cooked the asparagus simply in a pot of water with salt and butter and kept them warm until dinner. I really should’ve peeled the bottom of the stalks a bit since the bottoms were a bit woody on the outside.  The red orbs in the picture are the Vattlingon. I read about these in the book Faviken by chef Magnus Nilsson from Sweden. He puts up lingonberries in a jar with water and puts them away for a few months. Following Hank Shaw’s idea to use cranberries instead (he serves them with salmon as well) I put some up back in the fridge  around December so they are ready about now.

Smoked Salmon-White Asparagus-Sour Cream1

The sauce is sour cream, dill, chives and some lemon juice. Some more of those cranberries would’ve been good on each plate, but other than that the flavors were spot on and the plates looked lovely.

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Of Bresaola and Other Ike Survivors

Well, Houston was not as lucky with IKE as it was with Gustav a few weeks ago. The storm hit us pretty hard as a very strong Category 2 Hurricane. The island of Galveston took the brunt of the storm, but even inland Houston suffered considerable damage. Some parts of the city still have no power today! We were lucky that our house suffered very minor damage. The problem was that we had no power for over a week and a fridge and freezer full of food. Foods, like pounds of homemade sausage, a few quarts of stock, vegetables, meats and sauces. All that was gone, and it was a pretty damn sad loss.

However, not all was lost thanks to old fashioned food preservation methods. I was very gald to come back and find the Bresaola I had been curing and dry aging for about a month was covered in a fine powdery mold. In case you are wondering, yes, that’s good. Now if it was green and fuzzy, then it would have gone to the trash. This was the best tasting Bresaola I have ever had. I sliced it as thinly as possible and shared it with some family members who were a big source of help during the last week.

Another survivor was the batch of confit I made right before the hurricane. The legs of duck and a few sausages were perfectly preserved under a couple of inches of duck fat. I cooked a leg and sausage for dinner a day after we returned. I served it with potatoes sauteed in a couple of tablespoons of the flavorful fat. All I was missing was a glass of wine. I sure would’ve raised one to the gods of curing, salting, dry aging and preserving food.