Columbia River spring chinook and many of the Alaskan salmon stocks happen to be running when the land fish—morels—are spawning…err…sporing. No surprise that a fatty, omega 3-laden fish happens to pair very nicely with an earthy mushroom that is equally fleeting in this life.
And that pairing would be fine if we stopped right there, but a red wine reduction—in particular, a Pinot Noir reduction—is just the thing to tie these two spring delicacies together in a dance of earth and water.
I used a Copper River sockeye for this purpose along with morels foraged in Washington’s central Cascades. The wine was nothing special, though one is always told to not cook with anything that you wouldn’t drink, and the rule holds here.
This recipe is adapted from my friend Becky Selengut’s new cookbook, Good Fish. Becky is always razzing me for using too much butter and cream (and she’s right!) but I notice that she’s rather liberal with the butter on this one. In fact, incredibly, I pared the butter back a skosh. The original recipe is for four servings; this is for two. You can get away with a half-stick of butter, though you may choose to add a bit more. Hey, it’s your arteries.
2 tbsp shallot, minced
1/2 star anise
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 tsp honey
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups Pinot Noir
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter
1/2 lb wild salmon fillet
salt & pepper
1/4 lb morels, halved
1. To make sauce, combine sauce ingredients in large pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 30 minutes. Strain through fine wire mesh and return to pan. Whisk in butter over medium heat until sauce is syrupy.
2. Meanwhile pre-heat oven on broil. Brush salmon fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place salmon skin side down on aluminum foil on baking sheet, within 6 inches or so of heating element. The rule of thumb is 10 minutes of broiling per inch of thickness; I usually cook salmon less than the rule of thumb.
3. Saute morels separately in a small pan with butter.
4. Spoon sauce onto warm plate, place salmon over sauce, and shower with morels.