Russian Shuba Salad Verrines

Russian Shuba Salad Verrines

Russian Shuba Salad Verrines
AKA Fur Coat Salad

My Nana (paternal grandmother) was born in Kiev in 1894. She was an excellent cook, but she never served a Shuba Salad…most likely due to the fact that it was invented after the time her family fled to escape the pogroms when she was a young girl.

The story has it that sometime in the early 1900s, a restaurateur in Moscow named Anastas Bogomilov created the dish to calm and satiate his rowdy vodka-drunk customers.

Striking, super-flavorful, layered Shuba Salad is often served for Christmas and New Year’s now, and traditionally made with chopped pickled herring. Although I am a fan of pickled herring, here I substituted an appetizing fish with broader appeal, smoked salmon. Today, January 7th, is Orthodox Christmas – celebrated in Russia, Ukraine, and many central and eastern European countries as well as other parts of the world. It’s time to enjoy some Shuba!

The dish’s intriguing name “Herring Under a Fur Coat” is translated to English from seledka pod shuboi or shuba.  Shuba means fur coat in Russian, here the fish is nestled under a coating of fluffy soft vegetables and dressing.

Nana did wear a fluffy Russian Sable Fur Coat to protect her against Chicago’s harshest winters, but alas, despite my Russian ancestry, there was no Shuba Salad in my youth…but I am more than happy to have discovered it now.

Fur Coat Salad Recipe

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Blackberry-Cured Gravlax

Blackberry-Cured Gravlax

Blackberry-Cured Gravlax
with Fennel Seeds and Gin

A sushi-quality sockeye salmon fillet is rubbed with a mixture of salt, sugar, black pepper, and toasted fennel seeds. It is tightly bundled in a puree of blackberry and gin then refrigerated for at least 24 hours. The result is something a little different than the traditional gravlax with dill.

Last month we thoroughly enjoyed a Salmon Crudo with Blackberry Ponzu. It turns out the Pacific Northwest chefs’ secret is the marriage of salmon and blackberries. Now we know too.

Blackberry-Cured Gravlax

The blackberry-gin mixture brings an interesting herbal fruitiness while fennel adds subtle anise notes. The exterior of the salmon is tinged a neat purple color. This was a fun project and a refreshing modern alternative to old world Nordic-style gravlax.

We plated our blackberry-cured gravlax with fresh blackberries, tomato, red onion, and lemon. Everything bagels, capers, and cream cheese were served on the side. Delightful and different!

Blackberry-Cured Gravlax Recipe

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Salmon Cucumber Poke Bowl

Salmon Cucumber Poke Bowl

Salmon Cucumber Poke Bowl
Almond Ginger Scallion Ponzu

“Chopped raw fish, or poke, was part of my everyday life when I was growing up in La’ie, the rural town on O’ahu’s north shore. The sea was our playground,” penned Chef Sam Choy in his book Poke, Mutual Publishing, 2009.

In the old days, fresh-caught reef fish would be cut up and seasoned with salt produced by evaporation of the ocean water. Then inamona (ground roasted candlenut) and limu (seaweed) were mixed in. That’s it.

As a nod to Hawaiian poke of the past…here, buttery marcona almonds stand in for local candlenuts, and dashi seaweed broth brings the essence of the sea. Ginger, scallions, soy sauce, and yuzu juice lend background complexity and Japanese touches, while cucumber adds a cool fresh crunch. But this recipe keeps true to its old-style Hawaiian roots – simple, delicious, and uncomplicated – high quality fish with no spicy mayonnaise or syrupy sauces squirted on top.

Chef Sam Choy is a four-time nominee for the James Beard Best Pacific Regional chef award, winning in 2004. He is often credited as the “Godfather of Poke” and the Culinary Ambassador of the Big Island. Read my interview with him about poke and sustainability here.

Salmon Cucumber Poke Bowl Recipe

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Salmon Crudo, Blackberry Ponzu

Salmon Crudo, Blackberry Ponzu

Salmon Crudo, Blackberry Ponzu

You might have noticed that we are making our fair share of raw salmon dishes here. In my search for an interesting pairing with salmon, I came across quite a few sites from the Pacific Northwest where local salmon was paired with local blackberries.

Usually referring to a wine and food pairing, the saying goes “what grows together goes together.” Roughly speaking, the idea is that local wine and local foods complement each other. Seems to work very well for this land & sea pairing as well.

Ponzu sauce (ponzu shoyu) is a Japanese condiment commonly made with citrus, soy sauce, mirin, and dashi. Here, blackberries add a tart fruitiness and a striking color purple.

The sushi-quality raw salmon slices are steeped in blackberry ponzu for just 5 to 10 minutes to infuse the flavors. Crunchy cucumber, peppery radish, spicy jalapeño, and buttery-nutty pine nuts add pizzazz to this appealing crudo dish. Togarashi, a Japanese spicy seasoning made with ground nori, sea salt, various chili powders, orange peel, and sesame seeds adds complexity and the finishing touch.

Salmon Crudo, Blackberry Ponzu Recipe

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Saumon Cru, Beurre Blanc Grenade

Saumon Cru, Beurre Blanc Grenade
Saumon Cru, Beurre Blanc Grenade
🌸 🌸 🌸
Raw Salmon, Pomegranate White Wine Butter Sauce

The inspiration for this easy, elegant dish comes from a charming bistro in Paris that serves pan-fried trout with a pomegranate white wine butter sauce.

Here, the star of the show is pristine raw sockeye salmon that is bathed in the warm sauce. The result is a mind-blowing silky-rich dish where pomegranate arils add fruitiness, crunchy texture, and pops of color.

We often serve raw salmon drizzled with olive oil and some citrus, adding richness and brightness. In this French version, imagine how butter is substituted for olive oil and where white wine and vinegar add the tangy bright notes. Shallot adds complexity, while butter sauce paired with bold sockeye brings a luxurious mouthfeel.

Crudo or raw salmon is typically served cold, but here, to add another interesting dimension, the butter sauce gives warm kisses to the raw salmon. It is unusual, and unusually fabulous.

Recette de Saumon Cru

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