Yours truly with a fresh ling cod

I’ve just returned from an annual class I do at the Talon Lodge  in Alaska. This gorgeous place is located on a private island near Sitka and offers magnificent views of the stunning scenery. Guided fishing trips here are a lot of fun, and educational. For the classes I teach, we have a full gourmet kitchen to work in, and help educate participants in making wise, sustainable choices when cooking seafood, so we can help take care of our oceans.

Wild caught salmon from Alaska is considered one of the best seafood choices you can make, and it tastes outstanding. That is what I recommend when making this recipe. Enjoy!


Group shot with a fresh caught Halibut, and wild Alaskan salmon


Gorgeous silver salmon, fresh from the Alaskan waters

Serves 4

This is a very straightforward recipe that I like a lot. The sauce goes equally well on anything quickly sautéed,  like chicken breast, pork tenderloin medallions or vegetables. Try experimenting with different fruit vinegars of which there are many on the market. A brand that I recommend is Cuisine Perel who have a killer pear vinegar along with several other flavored vinegars . Remember that vinegars can have different strengths and you will want to adjust the amount to your taste.

3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 – 3 cups packed green shrimp shells
1/4 cup chopped shallots or green onion
1/4 cup or so pear or other fragrant fruit vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Brown sugar
1/2 cup diced fresh pears (or whatever the vinegar is made of)
4 six ounce salmon fillets, skin on preferably
Butter braised spinach (recipe follows)

Garnish: Fresh tarragon or chervil sprigs

In a heavy sauté pan heat two tablespoons of the butter and one tablespoon of oil over moderately high heat. Coarsely chop shells and add to the pan along with the shallots and stir until lightly colored. If using shrimp paste add when shallots are almost done. Add the vinegar and stock and reduce over high heat until sauce thickens slightly, about 4 minutes. Strain, pressing down on the solids and return to pan and add the cream. Reduce again to a light sauce consistency. Stir in herbs and season to taste with salt, pepper and, depending on the sweetness of the vinegar, a bit of brown sugar to taste. Set aside and keep warm (can be made ahead and gently reheated). Stir in diced fruit just before serving.

Note: Depending on strength/flavor of the vinegar you can whisk in a tablespoon or so into the sauce at this point for a more piquant finish. Sauce may “separate” or look curdled. Don’t fret! Simply buzz it back to life with an immersion or regular blender.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Add remaining butter and oil to a heavy oven-proof sauté pan and quickly sauté salmon skin side up until lightly colored, about 2 minutes. Turn salmon skin side down and place in the preheated oven until just cooked through but still rosy in the center, about 5 minutes. Arrange a mound of spinach on warm plates, place salmon on top, spoon warm sauce around and garnish with herb sprigs. Serve immediately.
Butter braised spinach

3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups baby spinach (loosely packed)
Drops of fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large sauté pan heat the butter and olive oil over moderately high heat. Add spinach a toss quickly to wilt, about 1 minute. Be careful not to overcook or spinach will weep. Season to taste with drops of lemon juice, salt and pepper and serve immediately.

This guy lives at Fortress of the Bear, a place that rescues bear cubs.