Monday, February 9, 2009

Valentine's Special: Sexy Salmon Belly-Wrapped Salmon on Potato Leek Chowder (you are so going to get some…)

Get some what? Compliments on your cooking, of course! This video recipe shows a new salmon technique I've been using lately, where the moist, fatty salmon belly portion is used to top the thicker, leaner part of the filet.

This really produces a fantastic piece of salmon, and when paired with a simple potato and leek chowder, would make a terrific Valentine's dinner idea. You can t
ell this was designed for some kind of special occasion by the green onion ties.

I normally avoid such contrivances, but when done in the context of cooking a Valentine's meal for the object of your affection (also, the object of your affectation), it seems very appropriate. The fact that you (seemingly) went through so much extra effort will convey a certain something about your other talents and abilities.

This is not a recipe for beginners. Having stated that, I will say that there's no good reason why this will not work even if you are a novice cook. The key is to watch the video 6 or 7 times, take a few notes, and secretly practice it before the main event.

It doesn’t get any better than being able to do a home cooked meal for your Valentine. Think of the savings, the privacy, and what many bachelors call the "home field advantage." But, there are a few things to consider to maximize the experience.

Find out about any food allergies beforehand. A trip to the emergency room will not impress your date or her grotesquely swollen face. Also, no scented candles! This salmon recipe isn’t as good when eaten in a room that smells like "Lavender Rain."

Lastly, if things seem to be going well, about halfway through dessert, lean over and say, "Would you like to put in your breakfast order now?" If she smiles shyly you know you're in business - if she gets insulted and leaves, you get to finish her dessert - it's a win, win. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 small or 2 large portions:
2 center cut salmon fillets, "pin bones" removed
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp tarragon mustard
8 green onions
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 slice bacon, sliced
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp butter
1 leek, chopped,
1 1/2 cups diced Yukon gold potatoes
3-4 cups water, or as needed
pinch cayenne
red chile sauce to garnish, optional

Have you seen these other great salmon video recipes?
Salmon Cakes with Creamy Corn Relish
Garlic Ginger Basil Salmon
Broiled Salmon Glazed with Dijon and Rice Vinegar
“Hot Smoked” Salmon

For information on keeping your knives as sharp as mine, check out this video clip entitled, Knife Steels 101 - Let's Get Something Straight.

* Please help support free video recipes, and visit my new sponsor, MOZO Shoes. Find out why chefs (like me) are buzzing about their great shoes!


Anonymous said...

You're soooooo funny! With the effort that's put into that difficult dish, no doubt you'll get "lots" of compliments Saturday.

Vicki said...

Looks delicious & great video - your best tip is break up with her if she doesn't like garlic :)

nmls said...

I actually made this tonight Chef. Instead of all water, I used half chicken stock and H2O. It was great. Thanks again for all the recipes.

CollegeGourmet said...

I like getting "lots" of compliments, hopefully when I cook this dish, I'll get ample amounts of compliments.
Looks delicious and I love salmon! I'll definitely have to give this one a try.

Anonymous said...

This is THE funniest video Chef!
"Because you want l.... ots of compliments" Great stuff, and a great dish!

Sam said...

Chef John,

I've been wondering, what kind of knives do you use? Do you have any recommendations for a good set of knives?


Milano Cafe said...

Without the bacon in the soup, or maybe eliminate serving the salmon with the soup altogether, and our vegetarian friends will enjoy this too.

It looks pretty! Reminds me of a little gift. It would be nice to serve for any special occasion

Any suggestions to change it up, that could be used for the tie? Would lemongrass work? What else can I use?

Chef John said...

sure why not leave out the leeks and potatoes also....and you'll have a nice glass of water! ;-)

You can tie with leeks also, but that all i would try with.

Chef John said...

i have a total mishmash of knives. check this link out,

Anonymous said...

So... use bacon and serve it with the soup, or throw out this baby (recipe)?

Maybe I can tie up the salmon with some bacon, too!

Yummmm bacon - what doesn't it go with? What doesn't it make taste better?

Come on CJ you're always encouraging your fans to try different touches - sticking with one way or the high way is... well, you get the idea.

childsdish said...

Which knife did you use in this video? How do you keep your knives sharp?

Chef John said...

Not sure of the brand, it was a cheap brand from a restaurant supply store, but it's called a "santoku" knife check out this link for an affordable version, or once you are in Amazon search for santoku.

I will add a knife steel link to the article in regard to keeping sharp.

Anonymous said...

I'm not usually one for fancy presentation, but I must admit this is pretty cool (not only does it look good, it's also logical in terms of placement).

For those of us who do not care for bacon, what would you suggest as a suitable substitute?

Chef John said...

Prosciutto would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Very elegant recipe Chef John and your humor is crafty and inspiring . As an aficionado of salmon, I'd like to add a few comments about the fish itself and why I prefer Sockeye over the other species. Nothing is more important when cooking fish, than the fish itself, and quality due to handling can range over an extreme scale.

At last count there are about seven species of salmon. In your local fish store typically all 'fresh' salmon are farm raised (means not wild caught). At the 'fresh-fish' counter you will find either Coho, Chinook (indigenous to the Pacific and look the same, only an expert can tell the difference) and Atlantic salmon (easy to spot because of its thicker leathery skin) - all farm raised species (and exist in the wild too). Atlantic salmon is more commonly found at the fish counter because Atlantic salmon is a much hardier fish, and therefore easier to grow. The flesh coloring with 'all' farm raised fish is introduced thru the feed as an additive (if you really want to know more about colouring farm raised salmon wiki Canthaxanthin). Now a word about wild caught salmon.

Wild salmon's appetizing reddish orange colour (and taste) comes from their natural diet of krill and other tiny shellfish which are rich in carotenoids, organic pigments. Sockeye salmon (commonly canned) is always a wild caught product because it cannot be farm raised.

A couple of pointers on sockeye and why some might prefer it over artificially coloured fish raised in pens – for one, sockeye tastes much better being richer in oils and unlike pen raised fish, sockeye is naturally coloured by the live food it consumes in the wild.

Farm raised salmon's colour disappears through the cooking process; although entering the oven orange, the colour fades quickly to almost white when cooked. Sockeye on the other hand,(a wild fish), does not lose its colour through cooking. Sockeye owe their deeper appetizing colour to diet and also an interesting anatomical advantage: sockeye have one extra gill raker, making the species better adapted to feeding on krill. Tiny krill, containing orange coloured carotene are sucked in and caught by the salmon's gill rakers and then ingested. Sockeye have the deepest red coloured flesh of all the species, and their taste is known to be richer because of their diet and the advantage they have in filtering krill, their main food source.

Sold on wild caught Sockeye? Great, but there is a minor hurdle. Sockeye are only available fresh when they are in season ( a few weeks in Aug), and so you will likely have to buy a frozen whole sockeye, or a side of sockeye, frozen. I just bought two frozen sides today for this recipe, each one weighed a lb, cost about $10 ($8.00USD) per side, and came frozen and vacuum sealed. The side was thinner than the salmon in the video, about half the thickness. I skinned the side, and then scraped away the dark matter on the back of the side.

The dark matter next to the skin underside is dried blood, and it tells a story. Its presence is a very important tell-tale on the fish's taste, and its recent history. If you see an accumulation it's not so good. It means the fish was lying in the hold, or on the deck or processing room floor (somewhere) too long before it was processed and frozen. During that time the quality of the fish dropped by the hour, as the blood bled into the area under the skin and enzymes began to break down the delicate flesh in general. The moment it was frozen the enzyme action and bleeding stopped and the flavor and freshness was preserved. The fish with the least amount of blood found against the skin, is therefore the better fish. It was frozen quickly and handled properly from the boat on down the line; assume anywhere from a day, or even two days before it was cleaned and deep frozen. If you find a lot of dark dried blood, change the store where you buy, and or talk to the manager behind the counter about 'grade', who most likely will give you a blank stare anyway.

Back to the 'fresh' fish you are looking at behind the fish counter glass – if its 'fresh' fish (read farm raised), it was actually killed 5 to 6 days ago, maybe even seven days, if its been in the grocery freezer for half that time. Meanwhile the chain of handlers have done their best to keep it cold, on ice, or in the cooler just above freezing point. So there you have a quick way to judge a little about the salmon you are eating, and something about food processing times to market just based on species alone.

Chef John, the recipe was great, and you are so right about the thinner belly, overcooking problem solved!

The 15 min worked. One important thing for the fish novice, beware the tendency to overcook. It’s the most common error people make, especially if they are not coastal dwellers. Inlanders often want to cook seafood to death and dry it out. It’s a matter of thickness verses the time aspect. I normally broil salmon, and watch the colour change on the way down. (usually 7 to 8 min, 10 minutes max if thicker, placed 4" under a broiler element), so 15 min at 375 F is safe, but take care not to push it.

Lastly, the oil Chef John said to lightly coat the fish with is good for sealing in the moisture. If the fish has been frozen, it is already a bit dry, so don't forget this little detail.

I hope that wasn't too much information. I love salmon and have a lot of experience with it so it's hard to end the subject. Wild caught salmon is one of the top healthiest foods known to mankind.


James in Ontario

Chef John said...

wow. thanks!

An Ng. said...

I just made this for dinner tonight. I mashed the chowder a little bit to have a creaminess, and pan-seared the salmon. Let's just say that I got l...ots of compliments!

Anonymous said...

Salmon quiz:

What species of salmon do Japanese use for sushi; and why?

Why is sushi salmon deep frozen?

At what temperature; and for how long (customarily) is sushi salmon deep frozen.

Later on in the conversation do you usually ask the sushi chef when you are dinning at the sushi bar if he is Japanese?

James in Ontario

childsdish said...


Vive La James, the salmon afficionado.

A free App available from the Apple Store is called Seafood Watch. You can also go to their internet site, Seafood Watch dot org where a handy print out is available for choosing fish when dining out or shopping tips when buying fish to cook. The guide is also available for your mobile phone.

Anonymous said...

Correction to the above post 'krill as main food source' - should have read 'in coastal waters' - because pacific sockeye spend their lives swiming the Japanese current on a long journey across the pacific and back again. During this 5 to 7 year trek 80% of their diet is yummy squid. Its a short life, but a good life. :)

Although when you think of how it ends, and between the two in a mating game, maybe this is not exactly the best symbolic dish for Valentines day... lol. The male is literally beats himself to death, and she dies of exhaustion at birth. Then the river takes over.. But we can skip that part of the dinner time story.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I have given this sea food Valentines day presentation some further thought. It happens that i have a second side of this sockeye experiment defrosted, laying vacuum packed in the fridge, awaiting destiny. I am thinking 'Caesar'. I am thinking 'Crusted'. I am thinking 'lemon, dill, and mustard'. After all, what three flavour accouterments chase salmon more passionately?

Wait…anchovies are of the sea too. We are onto something here. Back in 24 hrs with an outcome.

James in ON

Grams Pam said...

Thanks for all the useful info, James.

Just wondering if you have anything to add regarding Salmon, for those of us who are "coastal dwellers" in the Great Lakes?

Marion said...

I love this recipe,looks and tastes great!
Thanks so much Chef John!

Just out of curiosity, because it came up in conversation... have you ever heard of cooking fish in the dish washer? A friend of mine swears it's possible, if the fish is double bagged with ziplock bags.
What do you think, or is it just another urban myth?

Chef John said...

it is possible, but I don't have one to try it with.

Anonymous said...

CJ, you mentioned removing the clove of garlic at some point but I never noticed when?

Chef John said...

You can take it out anytime before you serve the soup part.

Kevin said...

Hate to be the one "correcting" a chef (I do enjoy it though) but isent the correct term for a "slice" of bacon supposed to be a "rash" of bacon? I could be wrong though. :)

Chef John said...

rash of bacon? ive never seen or heard of that term before.

Kevin said...

Oh maybe its just a "brittish" thing then..

Constantin Moraru said...

Hi CJ.

I made this soup yesterday but result was not very satisfactory.

It has a big flavor and taste of fresh onion !
I don't like that flavor. Is that because I din't cooked well at the beginning the leek ?


Chef John said...

yes, cook longer...the leek should be soft and sweet.

Anonymous said...

I didn't get "lots of compliments" .. I got laid ):

Anonymous said...

I really hate onions. Do you have any recommendations for a different soup or chowder?

Anonymous said...

How many ounces of fish does this call for in order to make 4 pieces? I have a Valentine's dinner party for 10 and this is perfect for my seafood course. I am trying to guage how much to buy and the recipe multiples...

Chef John said...

i would buy 4-5 oz per person

Anonymous said...

Wonderful recipe, but i think you made the dish a synonym for an attempt to get lots of... And with so many people watching your videos, it can actually be counter productive... Thanks anyway!

Unknown said...

Thanks Chef John....this is just my favorite recipe, and your video is a hoot! I made it for valentines day for my husband last year. He did the shopping and was doubtful and NOT happy about picking up "leeks" for his dinner(not to mention they were dirty looking and expensive)
Well...he almost licked his bowl clean when he was done! I got L...ots of ...never mind! Anyway, I am making this wonderful dish for ham any day! Thanks for sharing

PS..i took pics all along the way while making this dinner, including the empty bowls:)