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Escalope de Saumon Frais Rôti à l’Huile d’Olive | 8:51 am | 11 July 2006

Escalope de Saumon Frais Rôti à  l'Huile d'OliveEscalope de Saumon Frais Rôti à l’Huile d’Olive
Bistro Cooking, Patricia Wells, pp 144-145.

It’s been really hot, and that doesn’t make for a kitchen that feels like making long, wintry, northern French meals. Time to turn south! Since Mastering doesn’t get too much into Provence, I finally pulled down Bistro Cooking and started looking through it. I made the tapenade (page four) and really didn’t care for it — with the niçoise olives, it was too bitter, and, after tasting the sauce here, I was increasingly worried about this book. Until…

This salmon dish, courtesy of Guy Jullien of La Beaugravière, is so straightforward that you could probably turn it out in fifteen or twenty minutes, with a salad, if you work fast. Sauté some shallots in olive oil [ What? French without butter?! mon dieu! but we are in the south now… ], when they’re softened, throw in some chopped tomatoes and let them thicken; remove from heat and add some crême fraîche. Cook the salmon about two minutes on each side, then finish four-five mintues in the oven, plate with the sauce and fresh basil; season. That’s it!

When I had checked the sauce for seasoning, it was not unpleasant but it sure seemed… well, unfinished, and a bit bland. It was at that point that I remembered that, um, I DON’T REALLY CARE FOR SALMON THAT MUCH, and himself likes it less, and — dammit! Why do I always think, “hey, it’s hot, I don’t want something too fussy, I know, SALMON.” Shit! The tapenade wasn’t yummy, dessert was going to be a risk (lavender ice cream) and NOW I’VE MADE SALMON. With an unexciting sauce, to boot. Woe!

HOWEVER.
Remember how the sauce seemed unfinished? It needed the salmon. The perfectly cooked, simple fish–with its tender flesh sliding apart luciously as the fat became like a delicious, briny butter–worked so well with the sauce that it was like they were in some sort of danse érotique, a rolling, slow tango of YUM. Hooray! Star Liquor has had a really frolicky selection of French rosés, and the random one himself grabbed was perfect with the fish.

This will definitely go into regular menu rotation. I’m also happy about that because Patricia Wells is from Milwaukee, and when we went to himself’s brother’s graduation, we saw her get an honorary degree in “culinary journalism” from my alma mater. Why didn’t they offer that when I went there?

P.S., re: the lavender ice cream. Once again, Epicurious failed me. The flavor was great–in fact, it could have used more lavender–but the combination of lavender and honey with the insanely thick texture this produced, plus the complete lack of a high note (I think Emeril’s on to something, pairing the lavender with lemon) made me feel like I was eating a clay/mud face mask. Bleargh. Evidently, I don’t make ice cream frequently enough to judge a recipe–yet. I’ll have to start experimenting, but also in smaller batches. Who goes through a whole QUART of ice cream?!

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