Wednesday at the Barn
Dish of the Week
Roasted Wild Salmon with Caviar Crème Fraîche, Pea Purée, Spring Vegetables and Chive Flowers
All hail the start of the salmon season, another one of life’s culinary joys that even ‘in season’ now needs to be savored in smaller quantities. While this mighty species has been slowly returning to the western seaboard, the abundance of wild salmon you will find in restaurants comes from Alaska, starting in early May and stretching to August. Yes, you can eat frozen Alaskan salmon year round. No, it won’t taste the same.
There are a number of varieties of Wild Pacific Salmon ~ Coho, Sockeye, Chinook (“King”), Pink, and Keta (or 'chum'most often used in canning). While they may differ in taste and texture, they all have the same incredible nutritional values which make salmon a superfood. Beyond the important environmental conversation you should be having around farmed vs. wild fish, with respect to salmon you also might want to keep in mind that farm-raised is heavy on Omega-6 fatty acids, and low on Omega 3's; (the former actually deleterious to health, the latter the Omega's we need in our diet, especially as we get older.)
Chef Ryan used to buy salmon from a family who fished the mouth of the Taku River in Alaska who intriguingly called themselves the 'Taku River Reds'. The salmon we feature in this dish, which sold out within hours last weekend, was King Salmon, the largest of all wild salmon as they spend the longest amount of time maturing.
A word about cooking salmon this fresh ~ you only want to cook it until the proteins set so yes, that means it will be dark pink in the center, just warmed through. Don’t think raw if that upsets you when a restaurant serves it correctly, think of the delicate taste of the sea that comes through and the incredible silky texture of the flesh. King cooked correctly is especially rich and buttery. Chef roasts on parchment with a brush of OO, which is especially important if you are leaving the skin on (we don’t).
Caviar is a natural match with its pop of salty sea essence. Blending it in a light crème fraîche tempers the salt, allowing the small chunks of bacon in the vegetable mélange ~ carrot, peas, cabbage, red onion ~ to bring in a smokey, earthy component.
The first of summer’s chive flowers from the garden sprinkled across the flesh were beautiful, adding a little nudge of mild green garlic that played on the tongue. But creamy, earthy, herbal, salty ~ wonderful as they are in the dish ~ all play second fiddle to the King.
In the Gallery
No matter who you are or where you live, there were many reasons to be upset about the cataclysmic natural events in Japan March 11. Here in the Gallery our first thoughts were for the safety of the craftsmen at Sugahara Glass, a 100 year old company that creates some of the finest glassware in the world. People overuse the word timeless, but Sugahara glass, in its design, color and fabrication techniques really do have a thoroughly modern, yet ageless appeal.
In general we love hand-blown glass and try to keep a range of unusual table pieces, from wine carafes to sake glasses, in the gallery. Come see.
Sugahara Blue and Yellow Shot glasses (produced in Japan) $29 Atelier du vin carafe (produced in France) $67 Canvas water glasses (An American company new to our gallery that uses recycled glass from various countries ~ bubble glass featured is from Syria) $14
Mother's Day Menu
All text and photos, Jil Hales (unless otherwise noted)