Sockeye Salmon is another one of those delights of spring. Pairing this ultimate salmon with one of its spring siblings, green peas, and one of its natural affinities – dill – is nearly a no-brainer. The addition of horseradish – prepared freshly rather than drawn from a bottle – cuts through the fat of the salmon, balances the sweetness of the pea sauce and brings the whole dish together.
Sockeye Salmon with Horseradish, Green Pea Sauce and Dill
For the Horseradish
- 8-10 inch long piece of horseradish root
- 2 tablespoons, water
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Green Pea Sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large (or 3 medium) shallots, finely chopped
- 2 cups chicken stock (plus 1 cup for thinning, as necessary)
- 1 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc or Albariño)
- 1 sprig fresh dill
- 1 ½ cups freshly shelled peas (or, if you must, frozen)
For the Salmon
- 4 Sockeye Salmon fillets (8 oz. or 225 grams each)
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 dashes of Spanish-style smoked paprika
- cabbage leaves for steaming
For the Garnish
Several sprigs of fresh dill
Prepare the Horseradish. Peel the horseradish using a vegetable peeler. Chop the peeled horseradish to a rough chop. Put the pieces into a food processor, add water and process until ground to a rough paste. DO NOT GET YOUR EYES TOO CLOSE TO THE FOOD PROCESSOR AS GROUND HORSERADISH IS EXTREMELY IRRITATING TO THE EYES. Strain out some of the water if the mixture is too liquidy. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar and a pinch of salt to the mixture. Pulse to combine and to get the texture to your desired smoothness. This will make far more prepared horseradish than you need for this dish but it keeps well and has many other uses (perhaps none better than a blood red steak).
Make the Green Pea Sauce. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the dill, wine and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the stock is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Add the peas, bring the stock back to a simmer, and cook until tender but still bright green, about 4 minutes. Working in batches, puree the mixture in a blender, food processor (or, better yet, a high speed blender such as a Vitamix). Pass the pureed pea mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl set over ice. Thin the sauce with chicken stock (working 1 tablespoon at a time) until the sauce is just thicker than heavy cream. Stir the sauce with the added stock to generally determine the texture and then reprocess in the food processor or equivalent. Set aside until ready to use.
Make the Salmon. Bring water in the bottom of a wok (or other bottom of a steamer set-up) to a boil. Meanwhile, season the salmon fillets with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Place the fillets over cabbage leaves in the top of a bamboo (or other) steamer. Cover the basket and steam over boiling water for 4 to 7 minutes until done to your taste. I recommend the bottom end of that range – 4 to 5 minutes — but I don’t mind a little life in my salmon.
- Assemble the Dish. Pour about two tablespoons of the Green Pea Sauce onto each dish and spread in a circular pattern. Center one of the salmon fillets on top of the sauce and top with the prepared horseradish. Garnish the salmon with several sprigs of fresh dill.