8 April 2009
Paper Chef 39
This month’s Paper Chef (hosted by Hungry Bruno) had fairly ordinary and reasonable ingredients for the challenge: blackberries, salmon, artichokes, and bulghur wheat. My main problem with this challenge is that I have no idea what to do with artichokes – I’m sure I’ve eaten them, but I’ve never cooked with them. Especially not an actual real raw artichoke. So I took the easy way out: I got some marinated artichokes off the antipasto bar at my grocery store. The same grocery store had fresh blackberries flown in from Mexico or Chile or somewhere, but I’ve had bad luck with these faux-gems before, so I decided to use frozen berries.
I remembered that one of my cookbooks had a berry dip to go with smoked salmon, but when I looked at it I noticed that it includes fish stock. That seemed a bit too weird to me. So while musing over what to do with the artichokes (did I mention I’ve never cooked with them?) and wondering if they would work in that bulghur pilaf I made a few weeks ago (probably not), I decided to put them in the coulis as a savory element in place of the fish stock. And then I decided to use the bulghur as a crust on the salmon. Voila! All ingredients accounted for.
Pan-Seared Bulghur-Encrusted Salmon with Blackberry-Artichoke Coulis
Take ~1/2 cup bulghur wheat, and run it through the food processor in an attempt to turn it more like flour. Soak the wheat in some salted water (about 1 cup) for at least 15 minutes. Drain the bulghur, then spread it out on a plate.
While the bulghur is soaking, start preparing the coulis. (At some point during coulis prep, turn your attention briefly to bulghur draining.)
Puree 1/2 cup blackberries (semi-defrosted). Press through fine sieve to remove seeds.
Zest a Meyer lemon into food processor bowl, then squeeze the same lemon into bowl.
Add 1 Tab melted butter and 2 Tab olive oil.
Add the artichokes (I had maybe 1/4 cup, probably less? I didn’t measure).
Put deseeded blackberry puree into food processor.
Blend it all together.
Now turn your attention to the salmon. I use the pan-searing method from The New Best Recipe.
Pan-seared bulghur-encrusted salmon
2 salmon fillets
2 tsp + 1 tsp canola or vegetable oil
salt & pepper to taste
1. Rub the fillets with the 2 tsp canola or veg oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Press the flesh sides of the fillets into the bulghur to coat.
2. Heat a 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat for 3 minutes.
3. Add 1 tsp oil to the pan and swirl to coat the bottom. When the oil shimmers (but before it smokes), add the fillets skin-side down and cook, without moving, for 30 seconds (so the pan can regain the heat lost by addition of cold fish). Then turn the heat down to medium-high. Continue to cook until the skin side is well browned and the bottom half of the fillets turn opaque, 4 1/2 minutes.
4. Turn the fillets and cook, without moving them, until they are no longer translucent on the exterior and are firm, but not hard, when gently squeezed: 3 minutes for medium-rare and 3.5 minutes for medium.
5. Remove the fillets from the pan to a platter and let stand for 1 minute. Serve immediately.
To serve, I put salmon on (raw) spinach, spooned coulis over the salmon, and topped each with 2 or 3 blackberries. We also had a little bit of a bean salad from the aforementioned antipasto bar.
The bulghur added a nice nutty taste to the salmon, although I think this needs some tinkering to get it right – maybe add something else to the bulghur? Also, I can’t quite seem to get this cooking technique right when I use a crust – the crust gets a bit too black. The coulis was a nice combination of rich (oil), tart (berries and lemon), and slightly sweet (berries). It works well with fish, but I’m not sure what else it will work with. We had at least half of it left over (and half the salmon, for that matter), so we’ll be having it again!