searching for gold

A few days ago I called our green grocer to place an order (he delivers-how good is that?!) Michael, the owner, answered the phone. Knowing how much I love fresh produce, he told me I must have the incredible shiitake mushrooms he had just found at market. “Okay, great,” I said. “Send me some.” Later that day my order arrived. The shiitake mushrooms were as advertised: spectacularly fresh and beautiful. There were just an awful lot of them…over 2 pounds.

So, now I had to figure out what to do with them. I could make a fabulous soup or pasta- but I was not in the mood for either. I could roast the whole lot of them- delicious and perfect for this time of year- but I wanted more. After to-ing and fro-ing for a day or so, I realized the fabulous freshness of the shiitakes- the whole reason I had bought them in the first place-was diminishing by the minute. I had to get off the dime and figure this out. I caved and went looking through old cooking magazines for inspiration.

Eureka! In an old Food and Wine I struck what looked like gold: a recipe for Salmon with Roasted Shiitakes and Mushroom Sauce by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, one of my faves. A quick glance at the recipe told me that it took my mushrooms and, in an unusual twist, paired them with jalapenos and garlic. Roasting the three together surprised and intrigued me. Better yet, I had all the ingredients, save the salmon, in my fridge. This was clearly meant to be.

I made the dish- tweaking it here and there. It was quick and fast- my favorite kind of recipe. This was looking like I might have struck gold- but the final verdict would be rendered at the table. We sat down to dinner and tucked into the salmon and mushrooms. The juxtaposition of the pink of the salmon, topped with the browns of the mushrooms as well as unique combination of flavors- earthy, spicy and mellow all at once-created a beautiful and tasty fall meal. It was official; this one was a keeper! Eureka indeed!

Salmon with Roasted Shiitakes and Mushroom Sauce
Serves 4
Adapted from Jean Georges Vongerichten

3 T olive oil
2 lbs shiitake mushrooms, halved- if very large, cut into quarters-stems reserved to make Mushroom Syrup
24 cloves garlic, peeled
3 jalapenos, seeded and sliced into 1” pieces
sea salt
2 T grapeseed oil
Four 6-8 ounce salmon fillets, skin removed
Pepper, freshly ground
¼ c mushroom syrup (recipe to follow)
lemon wedges, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 450. Heat a large ovenproof skillet until very hot. Add the olive oil, mushroom caps, garlic, jalapeno slices and stir well. Season with salt. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast, stirring a few times, for about 20 minutes, or until richly browned and crisp.
2. Meanwhile, roast the salmon for 10-15 minutes in the oven with the mushrooms, until salmon is desired doneness.
3. Transfer the salmon fillets to plates. Spoon the roasted shiitakes on the salmon. Drizzle the plates with mushroom syrup and serve with lemon wedges.

Mushroom Syrup
Note: Can be made ahead and stored in the refridgerator for up to a week
4 T grapeseed oil
Stems from 2 lbs of shiitake mushrooms, chopped
4 c chicken stock
2 c water
3 T bourbon

In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the mushroom stems and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until deeply browned, 10-15 minutes. Add the chicken stock and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 20 minutes. Strain the broth and return it to the saucepan. Add the bourbon and boil over high heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 10 minutes.

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One Comment

  1. Lili
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 7:59 am | Permalink | Reply

    All I can say is, “YUM.” Can’t wait to try this recipe. It might even entice my husband to eat salmon (not a favorite fish of his).

    Made “Jiffy Pop Fish” last weekend for company. What a fabulous dish! It always is a treat.

    Served the “Butternut Squash/Pumpkin Risotto” prepared in the oven to the Outlaws when they were in from CA. Flavor was great, but texture was a bit gummy. As advertised, it was easier than stove-top risotto, but I don’t mind stirring. Next time I’ll adapt it to the stove top.

    Thanks for all these delicious recipes.

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