spicy seared salmon; red dandelion; charred yummy pepper

I couldn’t get to the Union Square Greenmarket on Wednesday because there were a lot of workmen coming and going in the apartment, so I did what I have done under similar circumstances if I want to keep it a seafood day: I picked up some wild salmon from our local merchant down the block. As I’ve lamented before, unfortunately this treat can no longer be found in our local waters, so, yes, my carbon footprint was a little embarrassing.

Once in a while Whole Foods Market signage will advertise their fillets as “fresh” (that is, not frozen), which is how the coho I bought yesterday was described. It came with the skin, of course, but I removed it before cooking, in order to create the optimum ‘canvas’ for the spicy crust promised by the now-familiar recipe I had decided to use.

  • one 14-ounce piece of a fresh wild coho salmon fillet from Whole Foods Market, brought to room temperature, rinsed, the skin removed by the cook, seasoned on both sides with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and, on what had been the flesh side, pressed with a mixture of freshly-ground or grated coriander seeds, cloves, cumin, and nutmeg, sautéed in a little olive oil over a medium-high flame inside a heavy oval enameled cast iron pan over medium-high heat, the spice-coated side down, for 2 minutes or so, then turned over and cooked for another minute or so, arranged on the plates [this time without a squeeze of lemon or the addition of olive oil at the end, to avoid ruining the crust, but instead a few drops of olive oil were added to the juices remaining in the pan after the fillets had been removed, scraped them around the surface with a wooded spatula, then poured what had accumulated onto the plates at one end of the salmon
  • a garnish of bronze micro fennel from Two Guys from Woodbridge at the side of the fish

  • red dandelion from Norwich Meadows Farm, dressed in a good Campania olive oil, Lamparelli O.R.O., Maldon salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a bit of juice form a Whole Foods Market organic lemon

  • a large sturdy seasoned steel skillet with enough olive oil to cover the bottom placed above a high flame, then, just before the oil was ready to smoke, 13 ounces of some very sweet ‘Yummy’ peppers (that’s actually the varietal name) from Central Valley Farm, cut into halves, their few seeds and membranes removed, added (in 2 batches this time, with the cooked peppers gently reheated while the salmon was cooking), skin side down and not crowding, the peppers sprinkled with salt, the heat reduced some, and a heavy weight (a slightly-smaller foil-covered cast iron skillet) placed on top of them for 30 seconds or so, then removed and the peppers pushed around with bamboo tongs to see they were blistered more or less evenly, after which they were turned skin side up, a small chopped section of a red serrano pepper thrown in, and the weighted pan added again for another 30 seconds, or up to a minute, until the peppers were just about cooked, but not too limp, finished with the addition of some whole basil leaves from a Massachusetts Full Bloom Market Garden live plant (a Whole Foods Market purchase) and less than a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, both stirred with the peppers
  • the wine was an Oregon (Umpqua Valley) red, Scott Kelley Oregon Tempranillo 2016, from Naked Wines
  • the music was Vivaldi’s 1718 opera, ‘Armida al campo d’Egitto’, Rinaldo Alessandrini directing the Concerto Italiano