Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, you're reading this post while I'm off traipsing around Eastern Europe. This is the first of three posts that I've set to go up while I'm gone ... I guess blogging really is a sickness.
For the March 5 Star Makeover challenge - hosted as always by the talented team of Natasha of 5 Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! - we were tasked with transforming a classical preparation of fish into something new and fresh, using sustainable seafood. Easy peasy, and extra fun. I knew right away I wanted to play with fish and chips - a dish that doesn't always go the sustainable route when it comes to the fish. Plus, I wanted to keep the basic flavor components of the dish that I love, but put it all back together in a surprising - and much less greasy, carby, and fattening - way.
So, I took the classic buttermilk beer batter and separated it, poaching the Alaskan sockeye salmon (Marine Stewardship Council approved) in a Belgian raspberry beer, or framboise lambic, and cooking my celeriac with buttermilk, which I then pureed. Mushy peas are my must-have side for fish and chips, and since my dish needed some crunch, I made minted mushy pea croquettes with a garlic yogurt dipping sauce. Yes, they're fried, but since the only carbs are in the cream cracker crust, it's not so bad. Right?
In order to focus on the fish in this dish, I'm going to give the recipe for the croquettes in a post later this week. As a teaser, I'll give you a sneak peak at how pretty and green they are on the inside:
As for the fish and the celeriac, it's pure simplicity, and, as with most things, depends on the quality of your ingredients. Because the fish cooks so quickly, make the celeriac puree ahead and keep it warm. Peel and dice 2 large celery roots. If you aren't going to use them right away, put them in a water and vinegar mixture. To cook, boil in salted water until tender. Drain and pat dry. Next, saute them in 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup buttermilk and lower the heat. Mash by hand and add just enough buttermilk to be able to puree with an immersion bender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, set the oven to warm. For the fish, I used two 1/2-pound fresh wild caught Alaskan salmon fillets - skin on. In a sauteuse, combine 2 cups Belgian framboise lambic, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 cup water, 5 juniper berries, a handful of fresh basil, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and lower to a gentle simmer. Add the salmon fillets and cover until they are just cooked - you'll know they're done when you start to see the little white bits of fat showing on the surface of the flesh. When they're finished, remove from the liquid, cover with foil, and keep them warm in the oven. Turn up the heat on the poaching liquid and cook until reduced by over half. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle over the salmon to serve.Garnish with chiffonade of basil.
I love this dish because I get to enjoy the flavors of one of my favorite (fattening) dishes with almost no guilt. Just look at that juicy fish: