May in the Pacific Northwest means one thing above all: fantastically fresh salmon. In particular, the region's sockeye salmon—robustly flavored, brilliantly ruby-colored, loaded with healthy fats—is beginning to be offered fresh and wild-caught nationwide this time of year. We turned to Brian McCracken and Dana Tough, the chef-owners of the wildly popular gastropub Spur in Seattle, for a quick and easy dish that highlights this superb fish. They gently oil-poach the salmon and pair it with creamy mascarpone, tangy pickled shallots, and briny fried capers in a delicious twist on bagels and lox. (Those out West can find this version on the Spur menu this month.)
Inspired by the Spur dish, we developed a streamlined version for the home cook, one that still showcases the velvety texture and bold flavor of sockeye salmon. Our version broils the fish, keeping the tang with capers, lemon rind, and crème fraîche. If you can't find sockeye, any variety of salmon will work, though Tough and McCracken favor sockeye above all.
"We like the fat content—it's fatty, but not too much," Tough says. "And it's less metallic-flavored than king salmon. It tastes more like the ocean."
McCracken cautions cooks not to overcook the fish. "We like to keep it pink throughout," he explains. "Watch the fish closely—if salmon turns white, then it's overcooking."
Sockeye Salmon CrostiniHands-on: 10 min. Total: 10 min.
1 (6-ounce) fresh or frozen sustainable sockeye salmon fillet (such as Alaskan)¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots1 tablespoon chopped drained capers3 tablespoons crème fraîche¼ teaspoon grated lemon rind1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice12 (½-ounce) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette, toasted12 small dill sprigs1. Preheat broiler to high.
2. Place fillet on a foil-lined baking sheet; sprinkle fillet evenly with pepper. Broil 6 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Cool 2 minutes; flake fillet.
3. Combine shallots and next 4 ingredients (through lemon juice) in a small bowl, stirring well. Place 2 toasted baguette slices on each of 6 small plates. Divide salmon evenly among baguette slices; top each crostini with 1 teaspoon crème fraîche mixture and 1 dill sprig.SERVES 6 (serving size: 2 crostini)CALORIES 142; FAT 4.3g (sat 2g, mono 0.5g, poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 8.2g; CARB 16.7g; FIBER 0.8g; CHOL 18mg; IRON 1.2mg; SODIUM 228mg; CALC 17mg
Food photo by Brian Woodcock; Food styling by Kellie Gerber Kelley; Prop styling by Mary Clayton Carl
Portrait by Chris Laurion