Friday, May 11, 2012

Creamy Salmon and Leek Pasta Sauce and Obvious Metaphors

-->It feels like we’ve been swimming up river the last few days, as our small, but traumatic kitchen remodel takes place. I’m sure the project will come in well under budget, and way ahead of schedule, but for now, everything takes twice as long to do.

Happily, wanting to keep things simple is what spawned this very tasty salmon and leek pasta sauce. This recipe features two of my favorite foods; wild salmon and crème fraiche.

These types of seafood sauces are usually made with straight cream, or a béchamel, but I find those fall a little flat when compared to the tangy, fermented goodness of homemade sour cream. While it has the same fat content as cream, it just seems so much lighter and complex.

I’ll assume you’ve seen our winning “how to make your own crème fraiche” video, but if not, I highly suggest you do! Homemade crème fraiche will change your life. Check it out, and enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 Portions:
1 tbsp butter
1 large leek, diced, washed thoroughly
salt to taste
1/2 cup white wine
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 cup creme fraiche (you can use all or part cream)
cayenne to taste
1 tsp tarragon Dijon (or regular Dijon)
6 oz boneless skinless salmon, sliced thin (yes, this will work with any other fish, poultry, or meat!)
Cooked pasta for 2!

View the complete recipe


Axel14222 said...

This looks great, but I couldn't get the video to play.

Paola said...

As a first time commenter but a long time viewer I have several things to get off my chest before proceeding with my question:
first, as a spice-lover myself I'm absolutely tickled by your obsession with cayenne pepper; second, your recipes videos, IMHO are second to none! The combination of the approach you take and the attitude you have towards the ingredients you use and the cooking you do is all very inspiring stuff! keep up the amazing work!
OK so before i end up writing an essay on your blog, my question is concerning the cooking wine, how long does it keep for? Say i have 1/2 a bottle of leftover wine from a dinner party and i decide to keep it for later use in a you judge its 'freshness' by simply smelling it or do u make sure to use it within a certain time period? Many thanks

Elaine Benes said...

This looks amazing! Always love new ways to use salmon! :)

Elisabeth said...

I don't remember how I found this blog but I just htought I would comment and tell you how much I enjoy it! As Paola said, I like the video in your entries while at the same time you write things out.

Crazy thing but I was going to ask the same thing about the wine as Paola was wondering. In my opinion I don't like to drink wine too long after its opened but I have been told that I can use it for cooking...but how long is too long??

Chef John said...

wine will last a few weeks in fridge, but generally it should be enjoyed with the meal! Thanks!!

Vinny from NH said...


Roberto said...

I usually don't drink white wine, but I do use it for cooking. It will keep much longer in the fridge if you put in one of those special rubber stoppers and pump most of the air out using one of those special wine pumps. They cost about 5 bucks, last time I checked.

The suction pump also works great for keeping a partial bottle of red until the next day. Check with your local wine shop.

Axel14222 said...

I'm not much of a wine drinker, so I keep a few small bottles (187 ml) of both red and white on hand just for cooking.

Anonymous said...

"So I want you to take a leek..."

Pantalone said...

Love fresh salmon prepared this way!

Daniel said...

Please please please tell me you grinned too when you said... "Take a leek...." or am i the only sophomoric kid cook here? hehe

this recipe is perfect! My wifes sister did something like this but it was gaudy with loads of paprika and no herbs. gonna totally impress her and take the merit so she will finally like me :D After she worships me i'll reference her to your site again!!!

btw. the great thing about Austria is you can get amazingly delicious wines... absolutely drinkable and a dream to cook with for under 3 Euros.

PS. can you see this working well with like maybe a white fish? Cod, etc.? sometimes finding nice trout or salman (frozen) not always easy. i am thinking frozen food section here. Thanks for comment! and thanks for great idea! Cheers from Austria.


Anonymous said...

LOL! Love the way you titled this wonderful recipe "...Obvious Metaphors". Very cute with regard to the "leek" comments.

Anonymous said...

I like the white plate you served the dish in. Could you please share the manufacturer>

Anonymous said...

I am a big fan of Chef John and usually love his recipes. However I was really disappointed at how this one turned out. It was soo acidic. Far too much lemon. Maybe our lemons here in the UK have more kick than their American counterparts! My husband was unable to finish it and I really struggled to (I hate to waste food). Go easy on the lemon if you're going to try this at home!

Chef John said...

Yes, for future reference to you and anyone trying a new recipe...always add things like salt, pepper and acid to taste! There is no way to give accurate measurements for these 3 things, since people taste them differently. For me, the juice of half a lemon, is barely enough!

Anonymous said...

Made this tonight and added some freshly snapped asparagus. So delish!

ps: yes, I laughed at "I want you to take a leek" too.

Anonymous said...

Awesome that you mentioned Randy Marsh, had to laugh for at least 1 minute!

David Z said...

Hey Chef John, I just wanted to thank you for posting the serving size. I'm planning on hosting a meal for 7 and I would hate to only double this recipe and make enough for 4!

I love your recipes (and your funny commentary) and all my friends appreciate it ;)

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Hi Chef,

Hope ya don't mind if I attempt this dish with a tin of canned salmon... hey, what can I say other than that I'm on a budget.

Btw, I enjoy your writing as much as I enjoy your commentary.

Oh... I almost forgot, I'll be sure to add a few capers.


Chef John said...

Sounds great! Thanks!!

Josip said...

I added some crushed garlic to this, felt it tasted better with it.

Sascha said...

Hi Chef :)

I'm enjoying this super delicious meal right now. You're the best, i'm loving every single recipe of yours. Thank you very much :)

Best regards vom Germany :)

Chef John said...


Anonymous said...

THIS WAS AWESOME :D Thanks for the great recipe chef. I also added garlic and a bit of cheese.

Andreas said...

Just made this and again it almost turned out perfect! tried to double the recipe and offcourse that mean that it ended up with ALOT of lemonjuice. that said it was very good but the lemon did dominate the dish a tad to much. luckily its such a simple and neat recipe so im guessing it going to better next time!

Daniel Bottoms said...

Hey John,

Just did this with both (frozen) wild salmon and shirmps TOGETHER! My wife accidently took out the shrimps with the salmon and so had to use them anyway and wasn't in the mood for doing a starter.... so i just halved the shrimps like a scary zombie movie! *dramatic music* and dropped them in when th e salmon was ALMOST done... just let them cook with residual heat. My wife was amazed at how tender and succulant the shrimps were.... had it with a nice 2008 sav-blanc (from central northern France) and was a perfect meal!

Thanks again and greets from Vienna,

PS. I know this is random and off topic, but I would *LOVE* to send you an old viennese "gulash" recipe. care to get bohemian on a hungarian dish?

Nick said...

Quick suggestions, I just made this meal last night. It was fantastic!

1. Make sure that you steam off that liquid or else the creme fraiche really gets a little too soupy because of the acid which breaks it down.

2. You can zest the lemons and add that to the pasta, it gives it a great lemon sweetness!

3. I wanted to use less salmon so I added grilled artichokes. This is not a bad addition, changes the dish a bunch but, grill canned ones on a grill pan with thyme / mint and you got your self a nice compliment!

Faith said...

Oh my God. OH MY GOD. I loved this. I didn't want to spend money on Tarragon and I'm going to make your fish stew later this week, so I used anise with the leeks, and they ended up absorbing a pile of the lemon juice so they were these tangy lemon-licorice bombs that I absolutely loved! And I don't think I've ever eaten salmon that wasn't overcooked (except for sushi) before now, cause wow. The texture was like nothing I've ever tasted before. Incidentally, this was also my first experience with creme fraiche (which I made myself as per your instructions) and I think I'm going to need to start mass production on it or something.

Unknown said...

I think I follow you on every site possible you are absolutely amazing & inspiring with every dish you make. I'm obsessed with your cooking & I'm always learning something new I'm a pasta lover so I am definitely inspired to try this dish along with many others!!!!!

Unknown said...

I think I follow you on every site possible you are absolutely amazing & inspiring with every dish you make. I'm obsessed with your cooking & I'm always learning something new I'm a pasta lover so I am definitely inspired to try this dish along with many others!!!!!

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Greetings Chef! I'll has ya' knows dat' I done made me a vagrant-on-a-boat version of this here dish and it was decidedly good! And even better yet I done cooked it up with some diced up onion and red bell pepper that had been languishing in the very bottom of the fridge. And as for the salmon I used up one of 'dem mango flavored salmon pouches that I'd found hiding out among the cobwebs in the back of the pantry. Nor did some previously boiled wide egg noodles go to waste either. 'Dem fellers' got thrown into the mix as well. Nevertheless my finicky lady-friend did complain that my concoction had a rather "fishy" smell to it... which in hindsight is something that I wouldn't ever expect her to be complaining about. Anywho's I do digress. Thanks! You're da' best!

Unknown said...

I just made this and a have a few thoughts:

1. Using purely cremefraiche as the base for for whole dish, made it all a bit to tangy for my taste. It overtook too much of the other flavors that I used (I followed the recipe to the letter). Next time, and there definitely will be a new time, I would experiment with creme, and maybe some milk. It also got way to thick too fast for me to handle.

2. Managing the heat for this really was key, as in I didn't do it properly. My leak was getting color at the 4 min. mark. Note to self and any other reading this comment before trying.

3. Lastly, I'm not entirely sure that the measurements are entirely correct. I'm from Europe, so I had to rely on google to tell me what an american cup actually is. Either Google is lying, or it was entirely too much white wine, and too little cremefraiche/creme.

That being said, my faith in our beloved cook wavered, and I'm looking forward to continue my culinary journey into this blog.

Keep it up Mr. Cayenne!

Carmen Szekely said...

No garlic?? That is just not right. said...

I'm obsessed with your cooking & I'm always learning something new I'm a pasta lover so I am definitely inspired to try this dish along with many others!!!!!
Lemon Butter Salmon Pasta