Monday, August 19, 2013
Recipe: "Salmon and Potatoes in a Jar" from "Around my French Table" by Dorie Greenspan
Rating: Wonderful! This recipe will appeal to people that like gravlax.
Status: Made once.
This recipe for "Salmon and Potatoes in a Jar" is a keeper! It is quick to assemble, and once it has cured overnight and marinated for several hours, it is ready to eat anytime in the next three days. It is conveniently packaged in pretty jars, so it would be easy to bring if you are invited to dinner.
The first jar is filled with salmon which has been is lightly cured with salt and sugar, and tastes similar to gravlax. The second is filled with potato salad. The ingredients in both jars are marinated with olive oil, carrots, red onions, and spices. The potato jar also has some vinegar in it (I used white wine vinegar); it is just a few tablespoons but somehow the red onions seem to soak up the vinegar and become slightly pickled and especially tasty.
When I made this dish, I cut my salmon into thick-cut sashimi sized pieces, about 3/8 to 1/4 inch thick, which is thinner than the recipe indicates; I think this was the perfect size. I used both red French fingerling potatoes (red skinned potatoes with creamy, firm, and waxy flesh) and Russian banana fingerling potatoes (a waxy golden skinned small potato with a banana-like shape). I loved the creamy texture of the red French fingerlings, but the Russian banana fingerlings were too dry and crumbly for this dish. So next time I will use only the red fingerling potatoes, or perhaps I'll keep experimenting with other varieties. Since this recipe requires nearly a quart (4 cups) of olive oil to cover the ingredients, you should reserve your best olive oil for other dishes and buy a quart of cheap extra virgin olive oil. Don't be scared by the quantity of olive oil; even though a lot of olive oil is used, most of the oil is for marinating; the ingredients don't soak up a lot of oil.
Serve this dish with some bread. It can be served directly from the jars; set out clean serving forks to remove the ingredients. One caveat is that since the ingredients are marinated in oil, they tend to leave a puddle of oil on one's plate, so each diner should be given a clean dining plate just for this dish. It would be messy at a pot luck where the guests are only given one plate since the oil will probably run into all of the other food on the plate.
I like to rip off pieces of the bread and dip it in the olive oil that has accumulated on my plate and also make tartines (open-faced sandwiches): a few slices of salmon, topped with pickled red onions and carrots on top of a slice of fresh bread. This would be also nice with a vinegary or lemony side salad (go easy on the oil).
The salmon, potatoes, carrots, and onions can be can also be made into a salad (this a great way to use up leftovers). To drain the ingredients and reserve the oil, put a colander in a bowl that is a little smaller than the colander. Place the contents of the jars into the colander and let drain until most of the oil has dripped through. Pick out as many herbs and spices as you can. The rest of the salad can be assembled at the table. Toss the drained ingredients with some torn lettuce (a nice crispy lettuce such as butter lettuce or little gem lettuce is nice). The ingredients should have enough oil adhering to them to lightly coat the lettuce, but if not, mix in a little of the reserved oil. Season with salt (and optionally pepper or any other herbs or seasoning you think would be nice). Squeeze a little lemon juice over the salad or sprinkle some vinegar and mix it in. Taste the salad. The salad should have a nice acidic tang and taste good; if not, keep adding the acidic ingredient bit by bit until you like the taste. Most salad dressings use a ratio of 1 part acid to 3 parts oil, but the ratio will differ depending on the acidity of your ingredients (e.g. lemons can differ in acidity). This salad is especially nice with some crumbles of a salty and creamy blue cheese, such Bleu d'Auvergne.
The recipe is available at: Michael Ruhlman's blog.
Use only very fresh high quality salmon, preferably sashimi/sushi quality, since the raw salmon is only lightly cured (see here for more information about what types of salmon can be eaten raw and also this wikipedia article on raw fish). I used sushi salmon (from Super Mira Market in San Francisco) to ensure that it was safe to eat raw because it has been commercially deep frozen to remove any parasites (home freezers are not cold enough), very fresh, and had a great texture. If you can't find sushi salmon, then you could consider using farmed salmon but don't use wild salmon. Since wild salmon swims in fresh water, it can pick up parasites and should only be eaten fully cooked. The diet of farmed salmon is controlled, so it is less likely to have parasites.
The jars can be stored for up to three days in the refrigerator. After that the contents and the oil should be discarded because it is only safe to eat oil that has been flavored with fresh herbs for up to three days if it is stored in the refrigerator because of the risk of botulism. You can use the oil from the jars in other dishes (for cooking, salad dressings, or drizzling) for up to three days but after that the oil should be discarded for the same reason.