Monday, 2 July 2012

Salmon and Potatoes in Jars

I've been meaning to post this recipe for, I believe, about four weeks now. I made this as a first course for a Saturday night dinner when my folks were visiting from Ottawa. It was dynamite. Easy and elegant - definitely a dish for a special night. The thing with this recipe is that salmon, the good stuff I mean, is pretty pricey. The good stuff that I bought was wild-caught Pacific coho. Buying fish has become a bit of a minefield lately - it's hard to keep straight what's being sustainably fished, what kinds of farmed fish are okay, etc., etc. Suffice it to say that when it comes to salmon, stick with the Pacific coast and stay away from farmed. For a much less simplistic and much more cohesive take on sustainable seafood, check out Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch site.  

And yes, I do recognize that there was a similar "rustic cutting
board ingredient layout" shot in the last blog post. 
Okay, enough sustainability talk. So this dish is from the mega-awesome Dorie Greenspan (she's come up a few times before on this l'il site). It's perfect for a summer dinner party because there is no cooking involved, only a kind of brining/curing/letting the salmon soak in olive oil with some delicious friends like thyme, bay leaf, and coriander seeds. You need to plan ahead, but seriously, that's what you want to do if you're having people over, right? Get it done and then relax. You also need a couple of big canning jars for this recipe. I used mason jars and they worked like a charm.

The coolest thing about this recipe is that you serve the salmon and potatoes right out of their jars. Put out a platter of sliced rye bread, lemon wedges, and have people help themselves to jars of goodness. It felt cute and quaint and homey when we did it. I seriously can't wait to find an excuse to make it again.

Salmon and Potatoes in a Jar
from Dorie Greenspan's killer cookbook, Around My French Table. Every single thing I've made from it has been awesome.

1 pound salmon fillet, skin removed        (get the folks at your fish store to take off the skin for you - I had to do it myself and it was not pretty - mangling would be a good word to describe how that went down)
2 tablespoons coarse salt
Happy brining salmon.  
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pound baby potatoes, either red or white, new or old
20 coriander seeds      (obviously this seems ridiculously specific but stay with me)
20 black peppercorn seeds      (see the line above)
4 bay leaves, halved
8 thyme sprigs
2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced       (it looks pretty if you do a bit of diagonal slicing action)
2 small onions, red or yellow, thinly sliced
4 cups or so of olive oil        (I know, you're like wtf - but you don't eat all the oil, and you don't have to break the bank - just use your basic - i.e. cheap - olive oil)
3 tablespoons white vinegar or white wine vinegar
lemon wedges for serving
rye bread for serving

Mix together the salt and sugar in a bowl or other glass container. Slice your salmon into fairly thin pieces. See the photo above for an idea of size and shape - you want pieces that are easy to lift out of the jar and place on a piece of rye bread. Make sure that you remove all the little pin bones that can sometimes hang out in your salmon. I do this with a pair of tongs, and I basically just run my fingertips all over the surface of the salmon feeling for the pins. It's actually quite a satisfying task. Place your sliced salmon into the bowl or whatever you're using with the salt and sugar, and gently toss to ensure it's evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, and no more than 18 hours.

So, the next day, get out your jars. And Dorie says you can also use a terrine, or a bowl. So don't let not having jars stop you. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and drop your potatoes in. Cook them until they're tender, but not mushy. Drain the potatoes and let them cool. Take out your salmon from the fridge and rinse off the salt/sugar. The salmon will have released a fair bit of liquid, so don't be alarmed by that. So yeah, rinse it off, and pat it dry. Divide up all of your coriander, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, and sliced carrots and onions. Half will be for the jar of salmon, half will be for the jar of potatoes.

Wide mouth masons.

Basically you're first going to layer the salmon in the jar with its half of the aromatics - a little bit of salmon, a little bit of peppercorns, coriander seeds, bay leaves, thyme, carrots, and onions, and repeat until you're out of salmon. Top the jar with olive oil, covering all of the ingredients. Seal the jar. Do the same layering number with the potatoes in the second jar, but with the potatoes add a pinch of salt with each layer of them as well. Top with the olive oil to cover, and also add the vinegar to the tater jar. Shake that jar a bit to mix up the oil and vinegar. Put the jars in the fridge for at least 6 hours and up to three days.

More food should be served directly out of jars, no?

Serve right out of the jars with lemon wedges and rye bread. This seriously ruled. It was kind of heavenly, really. And cute because it was in jars and stuff. Serves about 6 as a first course or 4 as a main.  

1 comment:

  1. This is such a great idea - like rollmops but a bit more appetising! Great from some dinner party entertainment I bet, they'll at least be a talking point, that's for sure.