Sunday, April 3, 2011

Soy Cured Salmon, Asian Pear, and Cilantro Creme Fraiche

Every once in awhile I get sick of the dishes we always make and want to find something completely new and different.  That is how I found this salmon recipe.  Generally when we have a really nice piece of salmon we follow Tyler Florence's recipe for Salt and Pepper Salmon (or a variation of that recipe like Crispy-Skin Salmon with Buttermilk Mint Sauce).  We have also tried a few Asian-inspired salmon recipes, like this Miso-Marinated Salmon with Cucumber Daikon Relish.  So we have roasted salmon (either in a pan or in the oven) about a thousand times, but we have never tried curing salmon before.  That alone seemed like reason enough to try this recipe.  Plus the recipe was one of the easier Jean-Georges recipes from his Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges cookbook, and I am always talking about trying more recipes from that cookbook, so why not?

When I first tasted the dish, the first adjective that came to mind was elegant.  It is a very elegant dish - which I think comes from the cilantro creme fraiche.  The flavors are very subtle and delicate, which also contributes to the elegance of the overall dish.  The texture of the fish reminds me of gravlax or lox, but the taste is very different.  Don't leave out the diced Asian pear because it gives the dish some much needed textural contrast and sweetness.  We also threw some chopped scallion greens on top of the salmon for some color, but I'm not sure that they were necessary.
Recipe after the jump!

Soy Cured Salmon, Asian Pear, and Cilantro Creme Fraiche
Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges
By Jean-Georges Vongerichten

For salmon
1 cup light soy sauce
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
one 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 fresh green Thai chili, chopped
9 oz. salmon fillet, skinned, trimmed, and halved lengthwise
For dipping sauce
1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp creme fraiche
2 scallions, white parts only, thinly sliced
1/3 cup, fresh cilantro leaves, sliced
1 tbsp fresh lime zest, plus more for garnish
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup Asian pear, diced

Put soy sauce, cilantro, ginger, and chili in a blender (or food processor) and puree until the mixture is blended, but still chunky.  Transfer into a shallow bowl, submerge the salmon completely in the brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 hours.

Remove salmon from the brine and rinse thoroughly in cold water.  Pat dry with paper towels and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices.

Put the creme fraiche, scallions, cilantro, lime zest, and chile in a small mixing bowl and mix well.  Stir in lime juice and salt.

Spoon the pool of sauce onto each serving plate.  Decoratively lay the salmon slices on top of the sauce and garnish with the Asian pear and lime zest.  Serve immediately.

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