Comforting Seafood: Wild Salmon a la Lutece with Sweet Corn, Green Cabbage and Brown Butter

I have a slight fascination with cookbooks. The glossy pages filled with dishes as special as the stories that go along with them are too much to resist. It feels like a treasure hunt going through the pages. I always keep a sheet of white paper with me as I read through one, marking recipes that look delicious or feel special special. Although I find beauty in every book I sift through every recipe out there does not deserve to be made. There is a difference between a good recipe and a bad one, but I have found a book in which I doubt there is a bad dish inside.

Sunday Suppers At Lucques: Seasonal Recipes From Market to Table is a beautiful book written by Suzanne Goin with Teri Gelber. Goin is someone to look up to with food. Her dishes use familiar ingredients in an unpretentious manner all why conjuring up feelings of the comforting family dinner. Her cookbook offers a plethora of recipes that are arranged by season and by menu. I bought this cookbook in the winter and I find that with each passing season this book keeps on giving. I am pretty sure it will still do so year after year.

I have done some of the recipes in this book before but I decided to go with her salmon dish, Wild Salmon À La Lutèce with Sweet Corn, Green Cabbage, and Brown Butter Vinaigrette. Let me tell you one thing. A college cafeteria hall is not a welcome place of seafood. Fish is a rarity. Shrimp has never seen a pan. While I think most of my peers at school are lucky the cafeteria does not even attempt at seafood, it does not help the fact that a girl starts to miss it. When I first ate salmon it felt like a special discovery. It was delicious, versatile and healthy to boot. This recipe has a lot going for it. It is smoky with the bacon flavor. It has a great amount of acidity from the red wine vinegar and lemon juice. It is so fresh with the corn and cabbage mixture. Everything just works here, incredibly indicative of Goin’s talent as a chef and cookbook author.

I have stayed truthful to the recipe but I have changed some things around. The original called for mixing the breadcrumbs with the milk mixture that produced clumpy crumbs. I would dip the fish into the milk mixture and then coat in the breadcrumb mixture. That way the coating will be more even and lighter.

Wild Salmon a la lutece with Sweet Corn, Green Cabbage, and Brown Butter Vinaigrette 

[Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques]

  •     1 cup whole milk
  •     5 ounces bacon
  •     2 extra-large eggs
  •     2 1/4 breadcrumbs
  •     1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  •     6 wild salmon fillets, 5 to 6 ounces each, skins removed (preferred)
  •     2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  •     6 and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •     1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  •     3 tablespoons finely diced white onion
  •     1/2 lemon, for juicing
  •     1 1/2 thinly sliced spring onions
  •     2 teaspoons thyme leaves
  •     1 1/2 cups fresh corn (from about two ears)
  •     1/2 small green cabbage, about one pound, sliced thinly lengthwise
  1. Cut the bacon into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Stack them into two piles, then cut the bacon crosswise into 3/8-inch rectangles or lardons.
  2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat for one minute. Add the bacon lardons and cook about five minutes, stirring often, until tender and lightly crisped. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the pan.
  3. Swirl in 2 tablespoons of butter and after it foams for a bit add the spring onions, thyme and some salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat for about three minutes
  4. Add the corn and continue cooking for another three minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the cabbage and cook for two minutes until the cabbage just wilts.
  6. In a small saucepan, bring the milk and the bacon lardons to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and cool for five minutes. Puree the mixture in a food processor until the bacon is fully incorporated into the milk. Add the eggs and pulse a few times to combine. Transfer to a baking dish and set aside.
  7. Place the breadcrumbs and parsley in another baking dish.
  8. To coat the salmon dip each fillet in the milk mixture and then into the breadcrumb mixture onto fully covered.
  9. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat for two minutes. Swirl in olive oil and wait a minute. Carefully place the batter-coated fish in the pan. Turn the heat to low, and cook for about three minutes until golden brown. Carefully turn each piece over, and cook for another three to four minutes. Transfer the fish to a resting rack when it is nicely browned on the second side and still a little rare at the center. Transfer to a resting rack.
  10. Place six tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan and cook two to three minutes over medium heat, until it browns and smells nutty. Turn off the heat and wait a minute. Add the red wine vinegar, the onion and some salt. Return the butter to the stove over low heat and cook a minute of two until the onion is just softened but still slightly crunchy. Turn off the heat and squeeze in the lemon juice.
  11. On a platter arrange the salmon on top of the corn and cabbage mixture. Top with the brown butter vinaigrette and add some chopped parsley if desired.
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