I’m getting excited about my holiday in France in a couple of weeks. I haven’t had a holiday in France for ages and how could anyone who loves food and wine not be excited by the thought of a week spent in the middle of Calvados country and wonderful Normandy cheeses like Pont L’Eveque and Camembert made in towns nearby. Perhaps it’s all these thoughts of France that’s led me off my usual Italian, Spanish or Middle Eastern culinary path but when I was deciding what to cook for supper tonight, and wanting fish, it was classic French sauces that came to mind.
However, when I thought Beurre Blanc – and what sauce could be more classic in French cuisine to serve with fish? – I also thought: I have rose wine open in the fridge, not white; I have red wine vinegar, not white wine vinegar; and I don’t have any shallots so a lump of ordinary onion will have to do. Never let it be said that The Single Gourmet Traveller is shy of adaptation in the kitchen. In an instant, I thought, Well let’s have Beurre Rose then! And then I thought, dill – yes, salmon and dill, that perfect marriage celebrated in Gravadlax … let’s add some dill too.
In the supermarket this morning my eyes alighted on some fresh organic broad beans and peas. Yes! I thought, remembering the gorgeous Broad Bean, Mint & Feta salad I had at A Cena’s Not So Secret Supper Club last month. More adaptation … but perhaps merely inspiration from A Cena … I decided on a Broad Bean, Pea & Mint Salad to go with my salmon.
This is a meal evolving. Unless I’m cooking for others, generally meals are created from an amalgamation of thoughts, what I fancy, what’s in the fridge, and what catches my eye while shopping. However tonight’s supper evolved, it was a perfect meal for a warm summer’s evening, sitting in the garden, a chilled glass of rose (the same as had gone into the sauce – a delicious Fairleigh Estate Pinot Noir rose from Majestic Wines at a bargain price of £5.99) to hand. The delightful freshness of the salad balancing so nicely with the richness of the fish and butter sauce. And as for the perfect dessert to follow … well, you’ll have to watch out for that tomorrow …
Broad Bean, Pea & Mint Salad
Pod a good handful of fresh broad beans and the same of fresh peas. I have to confess at this point I thought, What the hell am I doing podding fresh peas when frozen ones are so good? But I promise you, they really were better; it is worth the effort. Anyway … boil the broad beans and peas in salted water in separate pans for just 3-4 minutes so they retain their colour and a slight bite. Then you really do have to take those tough, horrid skins off the broad beans. I know people will say if you buy baby ones you don’t need to. But I’ve yet to find a broad bean that isn’t better for losing its nasty skin. See the contrast in my photo – grey skin removed revealing gorgeous bright green, sweet little beans. Yes – do it! Now put peas and beans in a dish, add some roughly chopped fresh mint; squeeze over some fresh lemon juice and a good splash of fruity extra virgin olive oil and then season with salt and pepper. Your salad is ready. I made this just before cooking the salmon so it was cool when I ate it – you can make a bit more in advance but don’t serve fridge cold.
Salmon with Beurre Rose & Dill Sauce
I didn’t want to do anything fancy with the salmon so I just rubbed over a little olive, seasoned with salt and pepper, dotted a little butter on top and put under a grill. A simply grilled salmon fillet is a fine thing. Be careful not to overcook and dry it. I like mine almost slightly underdone in the middle so it’s still moist. Is there anything finer than a good piece of salmon?
Chop 1 shallot or a piece of onion about the same size as a shallot very finely. Put in a pan with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons rose wine. Bubble up until it starts to reduce and thicken (only a matter of a couple of minutes), then add cubes of butter – from a 50g piece – a little at a time, whisking as you go. It should thicken and go creamy. Be careful not to have too high a heat or the sauce may separate. Once all the butter is in and your sauce looks good, draw from the heat and add some chopped fresh dill and season with salt and pepper. Taste to check it’s right.
Put the cooked salmon on a plate, spoon over a little sauce and serve with the salad. Mmm … yes it was very delicious.