Guest Post: Potlicker Salmon

Today’s post is brought to you today by one of my greatest partners in food crime……

Guest post: Potlicker Salmon

My dear friend the Potlicker  has been making some of the coolest jellies over the time we have known each other.  We started eating them together standing next to the bread warmer at a restaurant where we both worked  (the warm bread was the perfect delivery vehicle for her inventive flavor combinations)  While neither of us are doing restaurant work anymore, that hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for her jelly making which has now evolved into an awesome small business.  The only difference is we now sample the jellies around her kitchen table with red wine and locally made cheeses that neither of us can really afford to be eating.  Such is the life of a foodie living in rural Vermont.

Last week I stopped in with something big and red and cheap to catch up with the Potlicker & TDH. Upon settling into my side of the kitchen table, Potlicker was really excited to have me try a brand new jelly flavor: Lemon, Orange, White Wine & Cumin Marmalade.  She breaks out a few spoons (no double dipping) and I hit a little taste.  But first, I have to say, this was one of the prettiest jars I’ve seen roll out of the Potlicker kitchen.  Thin slices of lemon and orange suspended in jelly with cumin seeds.  I was intrigued.  Right up front, you get the sweetness of the jelly, then the fresh citrus, then the bitterness of the rind, and last comes the cumin.  I was hooked.  I if anyone else had tried it was told that Jimmy (a mutual friend) did, and he loved it!  All we talked about for the rest of the night were possibilities for using this little jar of homemade goodness.  After a glass of cheap wine and some expensive cheese, I decided that this marmalade would be wonderful glazed over a piece of wild salmon.  My wheels were set in motion. Potlicker Salmon was born.

Before I get to the specifics on how to turn out a batch of this incredible fish, a word about buying wild caught salmon. Look for filets that are deep red in color with skin that is silvery black and very moist. If the fish or skin looks dry or dull, keep moving.  I’m not above having a good sniff of my prospective purchase just to make sure there is no fishy odor, it also lets me get an extra close visual inspection.  If you have not worked with a lot of Salmon, I would ask your local fishmonger to both skin it and pin bone it for you.  This will leave you with a piece that is then ready to cook.

Other than cooking it over a charcoal fire, I like pan roasting Salmon the best.  I think it allows for a crisp exterior while leaving the middle perfectly moist and succulent, I tend to cook salmon just through, which, in meat terms would translate to a nice medium, or slightly less.  If you like it cooked to a flaky pink, add two minutes to the roasting time.

Now, I knew I was going to need to add some additional flavor elements to the fish before searing, I decided on a dry rub.  Recipe follows:

Preaheat your oven to 425 degrees

Dry Rub:

  • 1 TBS Sugar
  • 1 TBS Kosher Salt -Do NOT use table salt here, if you do, the fish will be SUPER salty
  • 1 TSP Smoked Paprika
  • ½ TSP Ground Coriander
  • ½ TSP Groung Cumin

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and generously coat the salmon with the rub.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet over a high heat for a few minutes to get it VERY hot, I’m talking screaming hot here.  Once the pan is hot, add about 1TBL of oil (preferably peanut, or safflower, something with a high burn point)  The oil will dance around in the pan if it’s really hot, then you’ll know it good to go.

Gently place the salmon in the pan flesh side down (the side where the skin was should be up)  Let the fish cook for about 3 minutes WITHOUT MOVING IT.  After the three minutes, use a thin metal spatula to release the fish from the pan and turn it gently and turn off the fire.

On about 1.25lbs of fish, I used about half the jar of Cumin White Wine Marmalade and spread it all over the seared side of the fillet and place it directly into the hot oven.  In Exactly six minutes, remove the pan from the oven and remove the fish to a waiting plate, there will be some carry-over cooking, but, taking it out of the very hot pan will keep it from drying out.

I served this with some freshly foraged Fiddleheads, blanched and sautéed in a little bit of garlic and butter finished with a big squeeze of lemon juice, plain white rice and a green salad.   I think it’s just about the neatest thing to find an ingredient that inspires a whole dish as this marmalade has.  Well done Potlicker.

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