A Snifter On The Piano

I got a comment recently from a subscriber inquiring about a comment I left on her blog suggesting a possible use for the lavish surplus of salmon that they’re burdened with up in Alaska. I elaborated a little bit, but then the idea was in my head so I needed to make it. It’s different every time, but basically it’s just a salmon curry with lots of lemon rind. Often there are potatoes, and it’s usually tomato or coconut-based.

Normally I mince lemon peel (fresh or preserved) and add it to the onion and spices at the beginning, and that’s what I did. But then it got all kinds of special behind some of the leftovers in the fridge. To wit: a baked sweet potato and some buttermilk. I puréed the sautéed onion/seed mixture (lemon peel, fenugreek, cumin, ginger, mustard, coriander, cardamom) with half the potato and all the buttermilk, then salted it. In this ridiculous goodness I simmered seared cubes of salmon and broccoli florets until the latter were just tender. I served it on whole wheat couscous with lemon juice, garam masala, and peas mixed in.

The extra step of puréeing the mixture really brought this to that deeply satisfying place that Indian food is so expert at reaching. Tangy buttermilk married to sweet tuber, all interwoven with spices and fragrant lemon- a salmon couldn’t ask for a more elegant vehicle to transport it into the afterlife. And there was a nice Willm Gewürtztraminer that started out with a champagney kind of thing happening- just the slightest fizz and yeasty aroma, which is not normally a desirable quality in still wine- but it got over it in short order and made for a pleasant match with this food.

So I put up this post- though lacking, as always, any measurements- in the hope that it would help prevent her from quitting halfway through (which, you know, is something of a problem up there). And that got me thinking. So I make this offer to subscribers: ask me to make something, and if it’s not completely nuts (in a bad way) I’ll get to it as soon as I can. Initially I’m setting the rough goal of one per month, but being that erratic is my middle name, it is likely to veer between much more and much less than that. But you have to subscribe if you want to call the tune.

2 comments to A Snifter On The Piano

  • Muskeg Harpy

    Hey! I didn't make what you made at all! I just wrote about it today, though. I will totally be borrowing this recipe for some more salmon.

    incidentally, if you are anywhere near the bay area or Santa Barbara I can get you some fish as a thank you for pulling me out of the desperate funk I have been in.

  • peter

    Hey! That's OK, it's very malleable. And to your credit, you did pretty much exactly what I suggested.

    And no, I'll be in lovely Chicago for Xmas. Those other places sound much better.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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