Being vegan is marvelous — healthy and delicious. But sometimes we just need a little salmon, especially if it is wild Copper River Sockeye Salmon. I went to the Quarterdeck seafood market the other day and came home with less than 1/2 lb. of this lovely fish. It provided the colorful center of a vegetable meal, and Barbara and I both enjoyed it.
I’ve been in a use-up-leftovers mood, and that includes stuff that needs cooking soon, because we buy so many good veggies at farmers markets. That night I found a sorry looking yellow squash, for example, but when I cut off the bad part and made a small dice of the center, it was perfect for frying. I also had some pea pods needing to be used. Remembering how good they are when caramelized a bit in a hot skillet, I added them to the squash and had a nice side dish for starters.
We had lots of green beans, the regular straight ones and Romano beans, too. So I cooked them briefly in boiling water until barely done and put them aside, while I cut thin slices of half a small cabbage, to roast at 400º F. In the meantime I boiled five small Satina waxy potatoes, peeled and cooled them, then sliced them and added to a nonstick pan with olive oil on medium low heat.
The richly-colored salmon fillet needed only to be seared in a hot skillet with a little olive oil (it was first rubbed with a bit of lemon juice, salt, pepper, and ground dried lemon). I turned the filet over so it was skin-side down, and I put the skillet in the oven to finish cooking, reheating the beans at the same time. Finger pressure is the only way to test for doneness, so I leave that to my co-chef, since she likes it slightly firmer than I do. The final plate came together beautifully.
The biggest surprise of the evening was the wine. I often like Pinot Noir with salmon, so I pulled three bottles out of the cellar to consider. The first was a 1995 Lynmar Russian River Valley, which I and obtained many years ago from the winery owner who was a business associate. It had been in a remote section of the cellar until recently, so I feared it was long past its prime, which is why I picked two other bottles (one California, the other from Burgundy) as backup. There was no need. After I mangled the cork, which disintegrated under the corkscrew, I eventually got it opened and strained out the cork pieces. Much to my astonishment the wine was alive and well, full of charming fruit and elegance. I enjoyed it and the salmon together. Compliments to the winemaker.