I went to Lake Chelan for an overnight this week and serendipitously caught the Chelan Farmers Market. One vendor was selling all sorts of gorgeous produce for ridiculously cheap: huge bunches of baby carrots for a dollar each, generous bundles of herbs for fifty cents, and bags of ripe red currants for a dollar.
I asked her about her favorite things to do with currants. She likes adding them into salads, but also anything that allows them to brown a little, like tossing them onto grilled meats or into a hot pan in which meat has just been cooked.
They might end up going on some chicken or lamb later this week, but last night I tried out using them with salmon. I broiled it with butter, tarragon, and currants on top. While that was cooking, I made a sauce kind of inspired by beurre blanc (whose consistency I still can’t get right, but I’m working on it). I used a big handful of fresh tarragon in the sauce, poured it out of the pan, and then turned the heat up high to cook the currants. Try it out and tell me what you think.
Salmon with Tarragon-Red-Currant-Butter Sauce
- about a pound of fresh salmon fillet
- two handfuls of fresh tarragon
- two handfuls of fresh red currants
- sweet onion or shallot: one if shallot-sized, or half an onion if larger
- two dashes of white wine or white wine vinegar
- juice of one lemon
(Here are my tips on how to cook salmon perfectly.)
1. Set oven to broil. Place salmon on a baking sheet or dish. Add fresh tarragon leaves. Spread thin squares of butter all over the tops. Sprinkle on a few sprigs of red currants. Set in oven.
2. While salmon is cooking, prepare your sauce. Chop onion or shallot very fine. Cook it in butter on very low heat, adding more butter as it gets absorbed. Let it keep cooking.
3. If you’re using a thinner type of salmon, check it fairly quickly. You want salmon to cook just to the point where a butter knife slides into it easily and it’s a little translucent inside. Under the broiler, the tops are a little blackened here and there at this point usually. Take the salmon out while the onions are still cooking if it’s very thin.
4. When your onions are very clear and browned in a few spots, add more butter, lemon juice, and a dash of white wine or white wine vinegar. Cook a few minutes more.
5. Add the tarragon and stir. Turn off the heat and pour the sauce into a bowl for the moment.
6. Put the pan back on the heat with a little more butter. With the heat high, add the remaining currants. They will sizzle and the pan may start to brown. Add the other dash of white wine or white wine vinegar and let it cook a moment until it smells more like a sauce, less like wine or vinegar. It will be reddish. Pour this into the bowl of sauce.
7. Arrange salmon on a platter. Drizzle the sauce over and around it. Garnish with fresh tarragon and slices of lemon, if you like. Serve immediately.