|©2015 Henry McDaniel Photography
The north Pacific Coast is abundant with flavors that go well beyond the norm. Pacific Cliffs Salmon is an example of pushing the boundaries of traditional flavor profiles to a new level.
In essence, the dish consists of a salmon fillet that's lightly spiced with seasoned salt, garnished with toasted almonds, and baked. Then after the fish is placed on a bed of turmeric rice pilaf, it's topped with a blue-berry compote and served with fresh grilled asparagus.
Salmon? Almonds? Blueberries? Turmeric? An innovative medley, to be sure. But while the combination of ingredients is as bold as the scenic beauty of the region that inspired it, the flavor impact of the dish is not. When you taste this dish, your mouth gets a carnival of flavors, but they all blend together really well. It doesn't overpower other foods you serve it with. When you create a meal, all the ingredient flavors should be in balance and complement one another-and that's really what this dish is all about.
Needless to say, the wine that's served with this salmon deserves as much consideration as the ingredients of the meal itself. We'll look at some Pinot Noirs, Pinot Grigs, and even a Syrah, any of which blends especially well with the medley of flavors in the dish.
Let's get down to it.
|©2015 Henry McDaniel Photography
PACIFIC CLIFFS SALMON
|with Blueberry Compote and Tumeric Rice
|We'll walk through the preparation from longest to fastest. A quick note: you can always substitute the scratch made broth for organic, store bought broth. I happen to like making a batch now and then.
16 oz. salmon fillets, pin bone removed, skin off
2 tbsp. almonds
1 tsp. canola oil
2 tsp. seasoned salt
2 oz. blueberry compote (recipe below)
|BLUEBERRY COMPOTE INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup blueberries
3/4 cup + 1 tsp. water
3 tbsp. granulated white sugar
1 tsp. arrowroot
1-2 tbsp. brandy (optional)
1 tsp. whole butter
|RICE PILAFF INGREDIENTS
1 cup long grain rice
2 tbsp. tumeric
chopped chives for garnishing 1/2 stick butter
1/2 tsp. salt 1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 bunch fresh parsely
1 tbsp. herbes de provence
1 tsp. whole black peppercorn
3/4 lb assorted chopped chicken scraps
2 quarts water
|Add two quarts of water, carrots, celery, parsley, salt, pepper and herbs to a stock pot. Set heat on low.
|Heat a thin coating of canola oil in a fry pan. Add chicken parts and sear until the skin begins to brown. Remove and add to stock pot.
|Melt butter in fry pan. Add onions and sauté until the pieces begin to clear. Add to stock pot.
|Set stock pot heat to high. Stir frequently until mixture has a sustained rolling boil.
|Cover. Reduce heat to low. Cook for two hours stirring occasionally (about once every ten to fifteen minutes).
|Strain broth. Store for use with rice.
|Place blueberries, 3/4 cup water and sugar into a small saucepot and bring to simmer for 8-10 minutes to extract flavor and color from blueberries.
|Stir occasionally until sugar dissolves then slowly bring mixture to a boil.
|While waiting for mixture to boil, in a small bowl mix arrowroot with 1 tsp. water to create a "slurry".
|Once mixture is boiling, slowly pour slurry into pot as a thickening agent.
|Finish sauce with brandy (optional) and whole butter. Stir until melted. Immediately pull off heat.
|Garnish sauce with fresh blueberries and keep warm.
|Bring two cups of stock / broth to a rolling boil.
|Add one cup rice to water. Add Tumeric. Stir twice and allow to boil with cover off.
|Upon boiling, reduce heat immediately to low and cover. Cook 15 - 18 minutes.
|Check rice for texture and remaining water at 15 minutes. If done, remove from heat covered and let stand ten minutes before serving.
|Garnish with finely chopped chives.
|Preheat oven to 350°
|Skin salmon. Remove pin bones.(see photos above) Run your index finger along the creases in the filet to find the bones. They can be easily removed with a pair of tweezers.
|Trim the excess from the filet sides. Cut into 6 to 8 ounce portions. Cut each portion diagonally.
|Using your seasoned salt, sprinkle lightly on one side of each filet. (Our seasoned salt uses salt, paprika, a pinch of cayenne and a hint of fresh ground nutmeg.)
|Place filets in glass baking dish (sprayed with canola oil). Sprinkle toasted almond slivers generously.
|Bake for approx. 10-12 minutes depending on the filet's thickness.
|Form rice and garnish.
|Shingle salmon filets against rice.
|Ladle blueberry compote.
|Get to the wine!
|COASTAL POWER & PACIFIC PERFECTION
The power of the coastal Northwest yields some of this country's finest wines in what many call Pacific Perfection.
Today we'll be looking at three wines - Chateau Ste Michelle Pinot Gris, Columbia Winery Syrah, and King Estate Oregon Pinot Noir.
|Pictured abovefrom left: the grounds of Chateau Ste Michelle, Columbia Winery's tasting room.the hills of King Estate.
|Chateau Ste Michelle 2014 Pinot Gris
|Chateau Ste Michelle Pinot Gris style falls between the lighter Italian Pinot Grigio and the richer, rounder Pinot Gris from Alsace. The Chateau Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris offers fresh flavors of juicy pear, melon and a hint of spice. Visit site
|Columbia Winery 2009 Red Willow Syrah
|Crafted entirely from Syrah grapes grown on the esteemed Red Willow Vineyard, this wine is fruitdriven with aromas and flavors of blackberry, blueberry and cherry. Syrah is typically the darkest red wine because of the grape's thick skins and pigment, which translate to deep, concentrated flavors. The elegant, smooth palate offers berry fruit flavors that are complemented by notes of spice and pepper, leading to a long, lingering finish. Visit site
|King Estate Oregon 2013 Acrobat Pinot Noir
|Aromas of bright fruit lead into flavors of cherry cola, cranberry, earth leather that give way to vanilla and plum. The finish blends fruit and earth together for a lush and generously lingering experience. Visit site
|A LITTLE BACKGROUND
Wherever grapes grow in the Northwest, this rich land assures that they reach full maturity with a mysterious host of intricate flavors intact. The rugged features of the land conspire to make assorted pocket climates, elevations and soil recipes perfectly suited to the peculiar needs and wants of the most finicky grapes. Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon have found homes in Yakima Valley and Columbia Valley; Madeleine Angevine, Segerebbe and Muller-Thurgau have taken up in the Puget Sound; and Pinot Gris, Riesling and Pinot Noir love their prime Willamette Valley real estate.
French, German and Italian immigrant farmers planted wine grapes in Washington and Oregon as early as the mid-19th century. But over the next several decades, wine production grew minimally: large-scale and commercial wine production never really took off in either state until the 1960s.
Winemaking in Washington and Oregon has only grown since those years, but in different scales. Washington has become the second largest producer of premium wines (and wine grapes as well) in the country, second only to California, shipping bottles to all 50 states and more than 40 countries. It's an estimated $2.4 billion industry for the state, with a solid, well-earned reputation throughout the world.
By contrast, although Oregon winemakers have rapidly gained popularity and esteem for their efforts, they have yet to become a wine-world powerhouse on Washington's scale. Oregon law in the 19th century divvied up land plots into 160 acre chunks, and that small-scale thinking persists for many of today's independent-minded winemakers. Several wineries produce no more than 35,000 cases a year. Then again, the homey nature of these family-owned businesses (many of which practice organic farming techniques) are part of the charm that keeps customers coming back.
The future of wine in the Northwest holds nearly limitless potential. Washington has become established enough to create its own Washington Wine Commission and the Washington Wine Quality Alliance, which became the first body in the U.S. to define standards for "reserve" wines. The new wineries that regularly spring up on the vast swaths of unplanted vineyard acreage will only enhance the state's already impressive stature. Meanwhile, Oregon's wine industry grows more sophisticated as it matures into a wine leader in its own right. Wineries in the state keep expanding and producing better wines each year, and many have received heavy investment from California, France, and Australia.
The viticultural wonderland of the Northwest promises to delight wine lovers for years to come.
LISTEN TO THE FISH
When choosing salmon fillets, a deep coral color and a shiny surface will tell you that they're fresh.
TREAT THE TIPS WITH TLC
To remove fine grit from asparagus tips without breaking off the buds, hold the stalk with the upper part lying on the palm of your hand. Then, under running water, stroke gently from base to tip with a mushroom brush.
MIND THE ALMONDS
While the slivered nuts are toasting in the oven, you have to watch them like a hawk, or before you know it, they'll burn. As soon as they've turned a light golden color, take them out-they're done.
PLAY NICE WITH SPICE
A little turmeric added to the rice gives it color and flavor, but don't overdo it; too much will overpower and upset the flavor-balance of the whole dish.
Try soy instead of salt which provides the saltiness and gives the stock a hint of malt. The more you make the more you store for other uses. The longer you simmer, the stronger the flavor.
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