Scandinavian Salmon

May 1, 2006

Scandinavian Salmon
Varietal: Mélon

Serves 6 to 8

Linda and Ron Kaplan lived many an oenophile’s dream when they gave up successful careers in Iowa as a newspaperwoman and lawyer to follow the grapes to Oregon in 1994 after purchasing Panther Creek Cellars.

Scandinavian Salmon will make a lovely addition to my upcoming book, Northwest Wining and Dining (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007), although I was skeptical when Linda suggested it could be paired with Pinot Noir. But the earthiness of the dill and in the salmon (be sure to use wild fish, not farm-raised!) works well with similar notes in the wine. Pinot Gris and sparkling wine are other suggested pairings, although Mélon is a more intriguing possibility. “Mélon is a close relative of Pinot Blanc, and is also the same grape as France’s Muscadet. In the nose of this varietal you’ll often find pear, citrus, and peaches. On the palate, it’s richly textured, with flavors of pear, peach, and apricot, and just a touch of sea salt,” according to the Panther Creek Web site.

1 English cucumber rinsed, scrubbed, and patted dry

3 pounds wild salmon fillet, rinsed, drained, and patted dry

2 lemons, very thinly sliced

1 large bunch of dill, rinsed, drained, and patted dry

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. With a vegetable peeler, peel the cucumber in long strokes and save the skins. Cut the cucumber into thin rounds and reserve.

Line a large baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil, placing one sheet of foil lengthwise across the baking sheet, allowing enough excess foil on both sides to be folded across the fish. Run another sheet of foil from top to bottom, again allowing enough foil to fold over the fish. Place the salmon skin side down in the center of the foil. Cover the fish with the cucumber skins, placing the white portion of the skins toward the fish.

Cover the cucumber skins with half of the lemon slices and top with half of the dill. Bring the ends of the foil up around the top and bottom of the fish, fold neatly to seal the fish, then repeat with the other ends of foil until the fish, cucumber, lemon, and dill are completely enclosed.
Place the baking sheet on the center oven rack, and cook 50 to 55 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish and desired doneness. If you are not sure if the fish is done, open the foil carefully to allow the steam to escape and cut into the center of the salmon with the tip of a small kitchen knife. When it is done, the salmon will also begin to leach protein, which appears as milky white, creamy substance on the surface of the fish.

Once the fish is cooked to your liking, open the foil carefully to allow the steam to escape. Scrape off and discard the cucumber skins, lemon, and dill. Using a long, thin spatula, position the edge of the spatula against the fat layer between the salmon flesh and skin. Move the spatula forward through the fat layer so that the flesh comes away from the skin. Transfer the salmon to a large serving plate and discard the skin and foil.

Just before serving, season the salmon to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the reserved cucumber slices and the remaining lemon slices and dill, and serve family style.