On my days off, I make sure I take the time to eat some soul satisfying food. That usually means I’m gonna be making it myself. But, even though I want to cook, I’m gonna keep it simple and try to make my life as easy as possible – after all, it’s my day off.
My family is going through a sort of health craze. There was too much take-out being delivered, so, my mom asked me to make salmon and figure out something to go with it. Grocery shopping is fun as long as the market isnt a piece of shit. A new Whole Foods opened up near me so I decided to go there.
I picked up some salmon, then I strolled on over to the produce aisle and just took it all in to figure out something that will go well with the fish. I found some really nice looking mushrooms, I grabbed some shiitakes and some creminis. Then I caught a glimpse of one of Spring’s finest contributions, ramps (see picture below). If you don’t know what ramps are, they are like a garlicy mix between spinach and chard. They are deee-licious. If you can’t find ramps, a nice substitute would be spinach, chard, or a combination of both. Salmon, mushrooms and ramps are all aboard the cart at this point. I thought sautéing the mushrooms with the ramps and cooking it down in a little sauce, kind of like a ragu, would be a nice bed for some kind of marinated salmon. I knew the dish wouldn’t take longer than 30-40 minutes to throw together, which is why I thought it would be a nice
recipe to share with you all.
The better I become at creating a concept for a dish based on the quality and freshness of what’s available at the store, the happier I am; it’ll also help me be better at my job. The way I see it, if you own a food business, even if you’re not the chef, you need to be able to understand what it takes to make great food. The only way to do that is be a great cook. If you just know how to run a business but you don’t know much about food or cooking, you’re at a serious disadvantage. That’s why I love food shopping, I know it’s viewed as a
dreaded chore for most people, but for me, this “chore” keeps me on my game…and I love it for that!
4 Wild Coho Salmon Fillets, skinned
1 1/2 lbs of Assorted Cremini and Shiitake Mushrooms, scrubbed with damp towel
1 lb of Ramps, washed
1 tablespoon Fresh Chopped Thyme, chopped
4 Garlic Cloves, sliced
1 Lemon, juiced
2 cups of Vegetable Stock
1/2 cup of White Wine
1 Tablespoon of Butter
Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
4 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
1 Small Lemon, zest and juiced
1 – 1 1/2 cups of Olive Oil
1 tablespoon of Agave
2 Gloves of Garlic, grated on microplane
Salt and Pepper
First thing to do is marinate the salmon. It should take about 20 – 30 minutes to prep everything which is plenty of time for the fish to marinate. Toss the fillets into one of those large ziplock freezer bags with a really tight seal that you would trust to slosh around. Add all the salmon marinate ingredients listed above and then mix it all up really good to form the marinate and to make sure the surface of the salmon is nicely coated. Then open the “zipper” a little bit and try to get out as much air as you can from the bag. Try to make it as airtight as you can, if you know what I mean. Let that sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Now get chopping! After you’ve cleaned the mushrooms, you have to cut them. Its always important to remember that when your cooking vegetables, you want them to be relatively equal in size so they can cook evenly. I see the shittakes are about twice the size of the creminis. Also some creminis are much smaller than others. So in order to keep them the same size, I cut small cremini’s into quarters, bigger cremini’s into six and the shiitakes into eight or even ten depending on the size. I think taking the time to think about that makes a big difference.
Next up, ramps! Once you’ve cleaned the ramps, dry them, and then bunch them all up like they are below and cut them into little strips, stems and all.
In a sautee pan on high heat, or if you stove is really strong (mine sucks), medium high heat, add some olive oil and throw in the mushrooms and thyme and saute until the mushrooms are brown and cooked through. Keep tossing them around making sure they are getting color on all sides and not burning. You don’t want to salt mushrooms too early. salting will extract all the moisture causing the mushrooms to steam rather than brown.
Once the mushrooms are about done, add in the ramps and the garlic.
Cook it down for about 2 minutes, until its wilted down and everything is incorporated. Now is a good time to season everything well with salt and pepper, its gonna need it at this point.
Squeeze the juice of half a lemon in there…
…then add the cup of wine. Let that reduce for a minute.
Then add about 2 cups of vegetable stock. Let it reduce by about half.
At this point, you should be about 10-12 minutes away from being complete which means you gotta start cooking the salmon. The coho is a thinner salmon so I choose to cook it about 4 inches below the broiler. I do this because I want some color on the salmon. Simply roasting it will cook it nicely but it might get over cooked before the outside gets any color. The broiler will cook it through and also give it a nice char. It should take about 10-12 minutes for perfect salmon, depending on the thickness of course.
You know its perfect when it starts to flake at the slightest touch. It should still be slightly pink in the center. Nothing worse than overcooked salmon. Let it rest while you finish off the sauce.
Once the stock is reduced, turn the heat off and start to swirl in small slices of butter slowly to give the sauce some body. It should be finished. Taste it to make sure there is enough salt and then you’re ready to plate.
To make a beautiful presentation, all you have to do is spoon some of the ramps and mushroom “ragu” on to a plate, lay a piece of salmon on top and spoon over some of that sauce on top to finish. It’s really a simple dish that doesn’t take very much skill at all. But simple is usually the best and its simplicity is what I think is most impressive. I must advise you to give this one a try.