Sunday, January 29, 2012

Perky Poached Salmon with Pink Pisco Sour Sauce

Somehow the other night I inadvertently made an all pink dinner. Sometimes the only things you have in your fridge are salmon, beets and Meyer lemons.  Forget lettuce or carrots.  But after last weeks’ all brown dinner, which is a frequent specialty, fluorescent pink looks great on the plate.  This would be a great meal for Valentine’s day.

I loosely based this meal on Peruvian cuisine.  I went to Peru in 2005, alone. I'm not sure how well advised it is to travel solo in South America as a 21 year old girl, but I’m still alive. I spent the afternoons wandering around Cusco conversing with a textile shop owner, and wandered around Machu Picchu with a wicked cold, warding off death as I admired the beautiful stone structures.

My pisco sour sauce derives from the tangy sweetness of a pisco sour cocktail, reduced with red onion and a splash of salt, for a southern hemispheric take on sweet and sour sauce. Between Peru and Chile, pisco, a distilled grape liquor, abounds. Family gatherings and fancier restaurants offered a pisco sour, a cocktail frapped with egg white, sugar, lemon juice and pisco.  After living in Chile for a year, I tried pisco mixed with just about everything, a piscola or pisco and coke was my favorite. 

I poached the salmon in olive oil, resulting in a delicious, delicate fish.  It is a treat because it requires about a cup of oil per fish fillet.  The oil cooks the fish at a low temperature allowing the fish to retain every drop of moisture without overcooking it.  I accompanied the fish with beets and quinoa which absorbs aberrant olive oil and sauce. 

Pisco sour sauce

1/2 small red onion thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter
Juice and zest of 2 Meyer lemons
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup pisco
 Tsp salt

Olive oil poached salmon

1 cup oil per fillet of salmon
Wild salmon fillets

For the sauce.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sweat the onions, about 5 minutes.  Add lemon juice and zest, sugar, pisco and salt and reduce until thick, about 20-30 minutes.  The texture should be similar to syrup.

For the salmon.  Over low heat in saucepot large enough to fit the fish, add the oil and heat until warm to touch.  You do not want to boil the oil or overheat it, just simply warm it.  Add the salmon.  Allow to cook 15-25 minutes until the surface of the entire fish appears white.  Remove the salmon and the excess oil. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Stout Braised Short Ribs with Horseradish Gravy

I would love to take a bath in beer right about now.  My back is sore from hunching over the desk from too much studying.  (We just had our CREOG exam, the national OBGYN in-service test). Instead though, I put juicy shortribs on the bone in a languid stovetop bath of beer, maple syrup and balsamic.  They emerged tender and relaxed, I wish my muscles felt the same.

The last few months have had their ups and downs.  I finally have a moment to rest in the past couple of days.  With the best intention of sitting down and writing, I wake up on the couch three hours later, the sun set, grocery store unvisited, and the husband hungry. 

Work has been just a touch less demanding this year, so I’ve filled my time with other activities including creative writing classes, a Christmas cookie baking marathon and studying.  This makes me just as tired as before, but maybe a little more emotionally whole. 

This recipe is very easy, but it does take a few hours.  It is a great dish for a Saturday night at home and goes great with a nice cabernet, or obviously with beer.  I served it with boiled kale, which is better than it sounds, and polenta.  The shortribs I bought with the bone on, which makes a much more succulent gravy.

3 lbs ribs, bone on
1/4 cup olive oil
 2 cloves garlic
1 large shallot or medium sized onion
2 carrots, cut in discs
One parsnip, cut in discs
1 whole sprig rosemary
1 bottle stout
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp balsamic
2 tbsp apple cider
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups water

For the gravy
4 cups strained braising liquid
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp freshly grated horseradish
1 tbsp cream

Over high heat in a large dutch oven, being careful not to splatter and burn your arm as I might have done, brown the ribs on all sides.  Remove the meat and reducing the heat to medium high add the chopped garlic, shallot, parsnip and carrot until shallot is transluscent.  Place the ribs on top of the vegetables.  Add the beer, vinegar, water, rosemary, salt and pepper, making sure the meat is almost covered (you can add more water if necessary).  Reduce the heat to low and let cook until the meat is fork tender (about 3-4 hours).  Remove the ribs and allow to rest.

Strain 4 cups of braising liquid into a small saucepan over medium heat and add fresh horseradish.  Whisk in flour and salt.  Allow to thicken and whisk in cream.  Enjoy.