With the spring salmon season and (we hope) an abundance of these silvery swimmers in our nets and freezers, there is good cause for versatility in the mess tent. Salmon is wonderful fried and grilled, but its robust texture is especially amenable to sauces. One of my very favorite salmon recipes is made with a simple sauce containing cultured cream (also called crème fraiche) and dill. (Read on, my friends: Cultured cream is my secret weapon in the kitchen!)
Cultured cream can be easily made at home or purchased at some grocery stores. I prefer to make my own because it is easy and rewarding to do so. Gently mix 3 tablespoons of buttermilk with 1 cup of heavy cream and let it sit uncovered at room temperature overnight (for around 12 hours). The result is a tangy, thick cream that is stable in the refrigerator (keep it covered) for up to two months. It is far more delicious (and I find it easier to digest) than regular cream. It is also very versatile, and can be mixed with pasta and veggies.
Once you’ve made your cultured cream, the following recipe is extraordinarily easy, taking as few as 15 minutes to prepare. The dill adds herbal tones and the Cajun seasoning a slight zing to the sauce. I highly recommend serving it with pasta as a side.
1 lb salmon, skinned and cut into 2-4 pieces
1 ½ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ¼ teaspoons fresh dill, finely chopped
½ teaspoon commercially-prepared Cajun seasoning (Tony Cachere’s works just fine)
2/3 cup cultured cream (see directions above for how to make 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed (or finely chopped)
Salt to taste
Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until water dances. Sear the salmon for approximately 3 minutes on the first side. (After one minute, move the salmon in the pan so that it does not begin to stick to pan.) Flip the fish, and sear approximately 3 minutes on the second side. Test the fish by pressing down on it with a finger or cutting into it. If it is firm and appears done all the way through, remove it from pan and place on a warm serving plate, covered loosely. If it is not done, flip it to the first side, sear it a minute, and then flip and cook it for a minute on the second side. At the end of the cooking process, there should be a beautiful golden outer crust on both sides resulting from the natural fish oils.
Reduce the heat slightly to medium/medium low. Add the garlic to the pan and stir for 20-30 seconds. Add the dill, stir briefly, and then add the cream and Cajun seasoning. Stir rapidly and eliminate the heat when the cream has thickened a little. Adjust the salt, and stir again. Add the fish to pan, let sit for 20 seconds, flip (to coat both sides), and then serve, spooning the cream sauce on top of the fish.
Quantity: Serves 2-4.
For more recpies and storys from Ryan follow him on his Facebook page "From Earth and Lake to Plate".