I can tell by my watch that it’s salmon season! Well, okay. Not exactly by my watch. But by the fact that the harbinger of the seasonal openings–Copper River–has launched and that means that commercial openings begin peppering the region, bringing in freshly-caught wild salmon from throughout the Northwest. What a happy time of year! I have yet to have my first bite of Copper River’s 2010 vintage but surely it won’t be long now…..
Another timely salmon note is that a sandwich I helped create for Burgerville has just launched in all 39 of their restaurants this week. The Grilled Wild Coho Sandwich will be on menus until July 5 (or as long as supplies last), the simple and tasty item sandwiches herb-sprinkled and grilled coho fillet on a Kaiser bun with lemon aïoli and frisée. They tell me it’s already selling “gangbusters”!! Which is GREAT because proceeds from each sandwich go to support eat.think.grow, a program in Portland that’s working to establish an edible garden at every school in the city. No small task! But one that I’m thrilled to support. I met the founding director Linda Colwell at the IACP conference in Portland last month, we both attended the highly inspiring Urban Farm Mini-Symposium. So glad to have met her there and learned about eat.think.grow, just in time to be able to support them through Burgerville’s generous program. And Linda and I discovered we both went to La Varenne too! Small world.
So the third confirmation of salmon season came this morning by way of email from a fan! She said that one of her favorite recipes of mine is the Grilled Salmon with Cardamom-Peach Chutney and she’s misplaced the recipe. And with salmon season upon us, wondered if I couldn’t share a copy of the recipe with her so she could recreate it a few more times this summer. Not only will I do that, but I’ll go ahead and share it with all of you! Hope you like it. And if you might be in the mood for grilling a whole salmon, here’s a post I did last year on that subject.
I seem to have a thing for chutney. At a book signing recently for my latest book, Gourmet Game Night, the folks at Metropolitan Markets had whipped up the Aged Cheddar with Dried Cherry-Almond Chutney recipe to entice passers-by. Everyone loved that chutney! So much so that every other person asked where they could buy it. (Sorry, ma’am, I’m just a cookbook author; you’ll have to make it yourself. Though now that you mention it….) And in that book, too, I made a rhubarb chutney that goes with sliced pork tenderloin for a little open-faced sandwich.
So this recipe below only proves that I may be in something of a rut when it comes to falling back on chutney as a complement in many of my recipes. But what’s not to love? I’m usually not a fan of fruit or sweet things meshing with savory, but chutney (the way I like it at least) has such distinctive savory tones with spices and onion and vinegar, that I’ll forego my savory-fruit prejudices. This recipe doesn’t actually come from my Salmon cookbook, but instead my Stone Fruit book. In fact, I bet this preparation would be delicious with any of the stone fruits. Mmmmm, plum in particular. I may have to try that one myself here soon.
Grilled Salmon with Cardamom-Peach Chutney
(from Stone Fruit in the Northwest Homegrown Cookbook Series)
4 salmon steaks or fillet pieces, 6 to 8 ounces each
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
14 green or white cardamom pods
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 large ripe but firm peaches
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/4 cup white vinegar
Pinch dried red pepper flakes
For the cardamom-peach chutney, combine 8 of the cardamom pods with the coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a small, dry skillet and toast them over medium heat until lightly browned and aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the spices to a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle and finely grind or crush them (the cardamom pods are flavorless and are perfectly okay in the spice blend). Set the spices aside. Peel and pit the peaches, then cut them into 1/2-inch pieces.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant and the onion is beginning to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the spices over and stir to evenly coat the onion. Add the peaches with the vinegar, red pepper flakes, and remaining 6 cardamom pods.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peaches are tender and the chutney is thick and aromatic, 25 to 30 minutes. Don’t stir the chutney so much that the peaches become a purée; the pieces should hold their shape somewhat. Season the chutney to taste with salt and set aside to cool. The chutney may be made a few days in advance and refrigerated, but let it come to room temperature before serving.
Preheat an outdoor grill.
Rub the salmon pieces with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Lightly brush the grill grate with oil, set the salmon on the grill (flesh-side down first, if using fillet pieces), and cook until just a touch of translucent pink remains in the center, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish (or longer, to suit your taste). Set the salmon on individual warmed plates, spoon some of the peach chutney alongside, and sprinkle the cilantro over all. Serve right away.
Makes 4 servings