April 30, 2011
Varietal: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Melon
Serves 6 to 8
I was skeptical when the owners of Panther Creek Cellars in Oregon’s Willamette Valley suggested Scandinavian Salmon could be paired with Pinot Noir, but the earthiness of the dill and in the fish (be sure to use wild salmon not farm-raised!) works well with similar notes in the wine. Pinot Gris and sparkling wine are other suggested pairings, although Melon—the same grape as France’s Muscadet, also known as Melon de Bourgogne—is a more intriguing possibility. According to the winery’s Web site, “The dry, yet fruity wine finds a passionate following among lovers of shellfish and seafood. 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.” The wine’s slight salinity helps it pair perfectly with seafood, especially the Northwest’s own native fish, salmon.
1 English cucumber
3 pounds wild salmon fillet, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
2 lemons, very thinly sliced
1 large bunch of dill
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. With a vegetable peeler, peel the cucumber in long strokes and save the skins. Cut the cucumbers into thin rounds and reserve.
3. Line a large baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil, placing one sheet of foil crosswise across the baking sheet, allowing enough excess foil on both sides to be folded across the fish. Run another sheet of foil lengthwise, again allowing enough excess 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.
4. Cover the cucumber skins with half of the lemon slices and top with half of the dill. Bring the ends of the lengthwise 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.
5. Place the baking sheet on the center oven rack, and cook 50 to 55 minutes, or until the fish is opaque throughout, depending on the thickness of the fish and the desired doneness. Remove the packet from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. 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 side edge of the spatula against the fat layer between the salmon flesh and skin. Move the spatula 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.
6. 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.
Cook’s Hint: If desired, the salmon can also be cooked on a gas grill over medium heat.
Recipe reprinted from “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia” (Wiley, 2007, $34.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.