I’ve grown up in these parts, and except for a few extended sojourns to Portland, a year studying in France and New York and a chef’s job in Alaska a couple of years ago, I’ve stayed pretty close to home. I’ve hopefully begun to approach that coveted status our third-generation Scandinavians call “local.”
Recently, friends and I got turned around at Leadbetter Point State Park on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula and shuffled about for about 8 miles, happily confused. I also recently caught two silver-clad salmon in the ocean off Seaview. The sea was cresting at 6, 7 and 8 feet. We paid an uncomfortable price crossing the Columbia River Bar, but it is fair to say our male obsession with the rich red flesh of a silver salmon overcame our cautionary instincts. Silly boys.
The same afternoon, after asking permission, I scrounged three lobster mushrooms from a neighbor’s yard.
All this is to say how lucky we are, living where we do, surrounded by local comforts of the rich bounty of delectables from sea, river and ocean.
And good neighbors—don’t take them for granted.
Baked Salmon with Mushroom Cream Sauce
Ingredients for the sauce:
• 3 medium lobster mushrooms, roughly chopped
• 1 and 1/2 half cups homemade chicken stock
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
• 1/2 tablespoon fine chopped garlic
• 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
• 1 teaspoon fine chopped fennel (optional)
• 1 red chili, seeded and chopped
• Salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for the baked salmon:
• 4 pieces of 6 oz. fillets, skin on
• 3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
• Sea salt to taste
• Cracked black pepper to taste
• 1 teaspoon of mushroom dust
• 2 tablespoons of butter, melted with equal parts of olive oil
I sautéed the firm fungal flesh with garlic in butter and olive oil. I then braised the mushrooms in homemade chicken stock. After a few minutes, I added heavy cream and reduced the sauce into a thick, luscious topping.
The salmon is wiped with a mix of melted butter and olive oil. Further rub with the salt, pepper and mushroom dust. Bake — skin-down — until the white oil beads from the salmon rise to the top of the fillets, about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs after the salmon is removed from the oven.
The mushroom sauce is served over the baked salmon fillets. I served the meal with garden zucchini and a ripe orange squash.
The salmon can rest while you plate the vegetables. Orzo is a fine accompaniment. There can’t be many food options better than fresh salmon just off the boat.