Monday, April 12, 2010

In the Pouring Rain - Roasted Salmon with Rhubarb & Red Cabbage

I braved high winds and pouring rain last Sunday afternoon to meet Brian for beer and lunch at the Monk's Kettle in San Francisco. Driving across the Bay Bridge, it occurred to me that I hadn't actually been over to the city since...well, mid-February. And it is now April. A very sorry state of affairs. The East Bay does its best (restaurant, food-wise and friend-wise) to make the trip unnecessary, but there's really no excuse for living so close to San Francisco, and yet making it over there so rarely. I couldn't help but feel slightly sheepish that it had been so long. And I have to admit, I'd missed the Mission in all it's grimy hipster-ness. Even in the driving rain, the mustaches, shaggy haircuts, fixie bikes and unnecessary eye ware were out in full force.

I love the Mission, but it always makes me feel as though I'm in some foreign country on a limited visa. I'mnot meant to stay, but just to visit, and staring in fascination at its inhabitants and culture.

I'm glad they let me visit. Elixir is still the only bar I've found in the Bay Area that serves my beloved Deschutes Green Lake beer, and it turns out they also have a make-your-own-Bloody-Mary-bar on Sundays. I think that's worth crossing a bridge for, as I've been on a serious hunt for the best Bay Area Bloody Mary for awhile now. Thus far, Zeitgeist has been the clear leader, but that may just be the sun, picnic tables, Tamale Lady and cheeseburgers talking...

Though we've been experiencing bouts of torrential rain for the last several months now, Bay Area residents still seem woefully unprepared for the weather. Umbrellas seem a rarity, the streets constantly flood, traffic comes to a standstill, and we run, diving under awnings and into shops, dripping wet from trying (unsuccessfully) to dodge the raindrops. I do have an umbrella but I must admit, it's more than slightly broken, and I think I must be a somewhat pathetic sight, running around with what is basically, only half of a working umbrella.

The best thing about torrential rain, is that it makes it easy to stay inside and cook. A horrible rainy day is actually a pleasant day to have the oven on.

I'd been eyeing this unexpected, and rather strange recipe in Bon Appetit: Roasted Salmon with Rhubarb and Red Cabbage. My on-going love affair with rhubarb makes it difficult to ignore any recipe in which it is featured. I'd been wanting to try it in something savory, and the pairing with salmon seemed like a good option. I was really happy with how it turned out too, as the sweet and sour tastes of rhubarb were a great compliment to rich and buttery fish.

I did, however, have a problem with the cabbage. My adaptation ignores the caraway seeds and most of the coriander: the original recipe called for several tablespoons of each, which I found overpowering and unnecessary. Next time I make this, I may omit the cabbage altogether and just top the fish with the rhubarb and orange.

Roasted Salmon with Rhubarb & Red Cabbage
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds
3/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp water

1 tbsp finely grated orange peel

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cups 2-inch-long 1/4-inch-thick matchstick-size strips rhubarb
4 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
1/4 cup Sherry wine vinegar

1/4 cup dry red wine
2 6- to 7-ounce salmon fillets with skin
1 tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil

Stir mustard seeds in small dry skillet over medium heat until beginning to pop, about 3 minutes. Transfer to small bowl; reserve.

Bring orange juice, sugar, water, and orange peel to boil in large skillet, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; add mustard seeds, coriander seeds, and ginger. Simmer until syrupy, 8 minutes. Add rhubarb; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until rhubarb is tender but intact, 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer rhubarb to microwave-safe bowl; reserve.

Bring syrup in skillet to simmer. Add cabbage, vinegar, and wine; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, partially cover, and simmer until cabbage is soft and most of liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Place salmon, skin side down, on prepared baking sheet. Brush salmon with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until salmon is just opaque in center, about 11 minutes. Rewarm reserved rhubarb in microwave just until warm. Divide warm cabbage among serving plates. Place 1 salmon fillet atop cabbage. Top with rhubarb.

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