Smoke Perfume

Posted on February 17, 2012


Looking Down at Lightly Touched Fresh Snow

More snow fell on Eaglecrest last night and I headed up to do some downhill and cross-country skiing. The sun broke through the fog just as I got to the top and I went in search of some untouched powder. I got a little mad at myself for being chicken on a steep chute, but all was forgiven when I got into some powder below and made some nice turns. A traverse on the West side of the mountain got me into some really nice powder too. It felt so good I had to turn around and admire my tracks in the snow. The skate skiing was really great and enough fresh snow fell on top of the old corn snow to keep it from churning into the surface. I’m really thankful for another good day on my skis.

Today I had some smoked salmon pasta leftovers waiting for me when I got home. I love it when already good food tastes even better from spending time in the fresh air. This recipe is so simple yet amazingly tasty. The primary ingredient is smoked King Salmon collars and I wish I could say that they were from Bristol Bay, but whenever we fillet out Kings to eat, the collar gets cooked with the rest and that is the most prized part of the fish in our house. Our fishing friends in Sitka hooked us up with some king collars that were smoked by a friend of theirs, but in Juneau there is a meat shop, Jerry’s Meats and Seafoods, that smokes fish and sells the bellies and collars separately from their “premium” smoked fillets at a markedly lower price per pound. In my opinion, the bellies and collars are the best parts because they have a higher concentration of the healthy fat that is found in wild salmon and a much richer flavor.

Smoked King Salmon Collars

Jerry’s smoked fish products are available for shipment if you do not have a source near you. For any of you who have access to a soft smoked salmon product, it would probably work for this recipe. Again, it is wonderfully simple. Start by taking your smoked salmon and separate it from its skin, break it into bite sized pieces and pull any bones that may be present. In a low to medium heat skillet heat a can of mostly drained fire roasted tomatoes or stewed and a small can of sliced and black olives with the brine drained. Add a package of cream cheese and melt and mix it in. In the meantime you should be cooking whatever pasta you plan on serving the sauce on. Just before the noodles are ready, put your smoked salmon into the sauce. Do not boil, simply integrate the ingredients with one another and make sure that the temperature is to your liking. It may seem strange, but no spices, seasonings, or even salt is necessary because the smoked fish should have plenty of salt in it already and the smoke provides a flavor that is a spice unto itself that does not need improving. A very simple recipe that tastes fancy.

Marc Brédif Loire Valley Chinon

Normally I would go straight to pairing King Salmon with some kind of Pinot Noir, but because the collar meat is so rich and the smoke is so persistent, I think another kind of red wine might be suitable for this dish. I first realized what an interesting perfume the Cabernet Franc grape possesses when I tried a Loire Valley expression of it; a Marc Brédif produced Chinon. In this particular example, the aromatic herb aspect stood out more than the fruit features and I think this could be just the spice to complement the smoked salmon pasta.