Recipe: butter-seared porcini-crusted salmon
Wow, it’s good to be home in Nederland. While I know Jeremy prefers to be in Crested Butte (and I love it there, too), there is something extra special about this time of year in the Front Range. The pine pollen has gone away, the high country is melted out and bursting with wildflowers, and the moose happily munch away in the meadows. Neva continues hiking longer distances and steeper climbs. Her little body grows stronger, more nimble, and bigger each day, yet she is still my affectionate little pup who comes running when I call her and curls herself against my legs like I am home base. Just the other day we walked past Kaweah’s favorite rock outcrop. I directed Neva to the top, wondering if I was being silly to hope that she might recognize how special this hunk of weathered granite was to Kaweah and in turn, how special Kaweah was to me. Dogs are not deep thinkers… at least the two shallow-thinking dogs I’ve had aren’t, but Neva did oblige me and it tickled my heart.
queen of the hill
she is finally fetching
moose sighting after our hike the other day
here’s a closeup of that good-looking boy
One of the reasons I’m so jazzed to be home is that the porcini are flushing. Okay, they are flushing in Crested Butte as well. I know this because we found some on our hikes last week. We even trained Neva to sniff them out without eating them and she did a great job. But for me, the part I love most is foraging porcini (and then huckleberries) with my fellow mountain pal, Erin. Erin and I share a special knowledge and love of these local mountains and this is an especially beautiful time of year. But we don’t just visit when mushrooms flush or hucks ripen – we walk or ski this land throughout the year. This is our home. We joke that we understand one another because we’re WAMPs (weird-ass mountain people – a term coined by my other WAMP friend, Andrew).
We’ve been out a few times with Neva and found some nice porcini specimens that she completely ignored. Turns out that once we climb into marmot territory, Neva turns her nose off to mushrooms and on to marmots. It’s just as well, though. There’s quite a thrill when you find your own king bolete (porcini). While gathering several perfect kings and laughing with Erin and Jeremy over Neva’s dismal performance, I demoted Neva from Porcini Pup back to Silly Little Pup and all was well with the world.
such a beauty
neva learns the scent of a porcini
the look she gave me when i asked why i found them before she did
I did not seriously expect Neva to become a porcini-sniffing pup, but she did show some promise at the start. Jeremy and I are merely having fun training her to do all sorts of things because she’s so willing to oblige. So far, we have not fed her ANY human food. That’s intentional, because we don’t want it to detract from her training for the first year. It’s important that she thinks her dog treats and kibble are the yummiest things in the world. I’ve witnessed a woman feed her dog scraps from the dinner table only to wonder aloud to the rest of us why the dog won’t eat its dog food – that made my head hurt. Neva’s kibble and some of her treats are salmon, which made me wonder how she would react when I prepared some fresh Coho salmon the other day. Her nose shot straight into the air when I unwrapped the fillets, but then she resumed happily defuzzing a tennis ball. Good girl.
Salmon is in season and so are porcini, but even if you can’t get your hands on fresh porcini, you can make this delightful recipe because it uses dried porcini powder. You can get porcini powder from specialty spice shops (check out Savory Spice Shop) or dried porcini from Whole Foods or other gourmet stores if you don’t dry your own. The recipe is short on time and big on flavor – isn’t that how summer meals should be?
salmon, salt, pepper, dried porcini, chardonnay, butter
put the dried porcini slices in a spice grinder and blitz
If fresh salmon isn’t available to you, frozen will do. I’ve done this both ways and fresh is certainly better, but frozen works pretty damn well if you thaw the fish slowly (like in the refrigerator overnight). Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper, then dredge the pieces in porcini powder.
sprinkle sea salt over the fish
grind some black pepper
coat the pieces in the porcini powder
When the fillets are ready, melt some butter in a large sauté pan (or skillet). I know some people like using nonstick pans, but I have really moved away from them for any sort of pan-searing because I get a much nicer crust on my food and a proper fond that develops on the pan for reduction sauces. Fish cooks quickly, so you’ll need to pay attention when you sear the fillets. Set them into the pan with the skin-side up. Don’t move the pieces around! Let them fry for a few minutes (3-4) before gently lifting the corner up of one piece to see if it is browned. The reason is because protein will stick to a hot pan when you first set it down, but after a few minutes, the protein will release from the pan easily when it is properly browned. Flip the pieces over and cook another 3-4 minutes then remove to a plate.
melt butter over high heat
pan-sear the salmon
remove to a plate
The reason I love reduction sauces is three-fold: 1) you don’t waste the delicious fond that is left on the pan 2) you get a lovely sauce packed with all of the good flavors and 3) the pan is much easier to clean! Just add some butter to the hot pan and let it melt, then whisk in some wine or broth or water. The liquid will boil and bubble violently, but just keep stirring and scraping the pan to incorporate all of the fond into the sauce. Your pan should be relatively free of sticky bits if you do this correctly. Cook the liquid down until it thickens into a sauce and serve it with the salmon.
pour over the salmon
season and garnish
I had originally tried the salmon without the reduction sauce and it was decent. Once I added the reduction sauce, Jeremy and I both felt the fish had been elevated significantly. Make the reduction sauce. It only takes a few minutes and a few ingredients, but it’s worth the extra bit of effort. The salmon gets an extra kick of umami from the porcini, and the butter ties it all together. It’s ready in less than 30 minutes, so that you have more time to enjoy the meal and the rest of summer.
served on arugula salad with roasted cauliflower
tender and juicy inside
Butter-Seared Porcini-Crusted Salmon
4 6-oz. fillets of salmon, skin-on and pinbones removed
freshly ground black pepper
1 oz. dried porcini, ground to a powder (about 1/3 cup of porcini powder)
3 tbsps unsalted butter, (2 tbsps for frying, 1 tbsp for deglazing)
1 cup chardonnay for deglazing
Season both sides of the salmon with salt and pepper. Dredge each piece of salmon in the porcini powder to cover it completely. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan or skillet over medium high heat. When the butter begins to bubble, place the salmon pieces skin-side up in the pan. Cook until the bottoms are browned and release easily from the pan (about 4 minutes). Carefully flip the pieces over and fry for another 3-4 minutes or until the middle of the thickest part is just undercooked (it will continue cooking after you remove it from the pan). Remove the salmon to a plate and let rest.
With the pan still over medium-high heat, add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir with a whisk or spatula to incorporate the fond (the yummy browned bits on the pan) into the butter. When the butter is fully melted and bubbling, add a cup of chardonnay (it will boil in a flash) and continue stirring with a whisk or spatula to clean up the fond stuck on the pan. Let the liquid boil down until the sauce is thickened and brown. Remove from pan. Pour the reduction sauce over the salmon and serve. Serves 4.
more goodness from the use real butter archives
|beef porcini pot pies
|porcini mushroom lasagne