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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Swedish-style salmon with vegetables and white sauce

There's something so wonderfully simple about Swedish cuisine and northern cuisine in general. And it couldn't be more appropriate to try it any other time than in winter. Their frequent use of fish, freshly harvested or salted (cured), is well-known and sought after in the swedes' restaurants. Salmon is the healthiest red meat and our favorite type of fish, although we usually use it raw and smoked. This particular dish is not too complicated to make, quite light (even light enough to consume in summertime) and unmistakably delicious. The herbal flavor of the salmon is guaranteed to blow your mind! ;) Note: This was done for a special request made by Bogdan's brother.

Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 500 g carrots
  • 300 g onions (3 big onions)
  • 150 g celery (half a big celery)
  • half a large green bell pepper
  • 4 pieces of wild salmon file (500 g)
  • some salt
  • some pepper
  • some olive oil
  • a handful of dried marjoram and rosemary
  • a handful of dried thyme
  • 5 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 4 teacups of milk (600 ml)
  • juice from half a lemon

To start, prepare the vegetables. Clean them and peel them. Now, you have two options. You could either boil them (which is the long version but you'll have 2 liters of vegetable stock afterwards besides the veggies, which you can later use for something else), or directly cook them in a frying pan (the short version). Here, we took the long way round (mainly for the glorious onion soup we'll be making tomorrow). If you don't want the vegetable stock (but it's always useful to have some around in case inspiration or munchies strike), then skip the boiling instructions and just follow the slicing and frying. So, here we go:

Next, slice the veggies in big chunks, not too finely, just enough for them to get boiled:

Put about 2 liters of water with some salt in it on the heat source. Put some olive oil in a frying pan. Put the onions in the pan and the pan over a heat source. Let them cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the whole content of the frying pan to the boiling water:

Add also the sliced carrots and the celery:

Add the handful of marjoram and rosemary:

Keep the pot simmering for about 10-15 minutes, then get the vegetables out of the liquid. Store the liquid for later use. Refrigerate it after it cools if you won't use it the same day. Put the veggies on a plate:

Cut them more finely this time to get them to edible dimensions:

Cut finely the half of green bell pepper:

Add it to the rest of the veggies:

Get the salmon chunks ready. Put 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of pepper (here we used a mix of white, green, red and black pepper, freshly ground), a big handful of thyme and some olive oil on a plate:

Put a little olive oil in a frying pan and place it on your heat source. Put the vegetables in the frying pan. 

Make the spice and oil mix from the plate more uniform with your finger(s). Put each chunk of salmon through the mix and make sure it's evenly coated with it:

Place the salmon in the frying pan with the vegetables. You can put it either on them, or alongside them (if you feel the heat is too low and it might not cook unless it has direct contact with the pan's surface). (Note: there's only one piece of salmon in our picture because the pan is too small - it isn't our kitchen. You can put all the veggies and all the salmon to cook at once, we repeated the procedure because we had no choice :D)

Let it cook for about 15 minutes, turning the fish on the other side at half that time. Don't worry about the veggies, they won't get burned, there's no need to stir them. When you're done, arrange everything in plates, like this:

Now for the sauce. It's basically a bechamel sauce with added lemon. Here's what you must do. Put the 5 tablespoons of butter in a clean frying pan and heat it up:

Salt it very well (about 3-4 pinches of salt). Add the 4 tablespoons of flour and mix it very well together, so no flour separates of gets sticky. It must be very even, and you must stir continuously. Cook the flour and butter for 2-3 minutes until the mixture becomes golden:

Gradually stir in some milk, continuing to stir very well. Don't put in too much milk at a time and don't mind the sauce getting almost solid at times and liquefying shortly after. It will do this a couple of times until all the milk (about 600 ml) will be incorporated into it. 

When you're done, it will be all creamy and white-ish:

Your bechamel sauce is ready. Now add the juice from half a lemon to it and stir very well. The texture might separate a little at first, but if you stir well while it's still hot or still over the heat source it will return to its very dreamy-creamy self:

Take the pan off the fire (or heat source) and pour the white sauce over the fish and vegetables, into generous but equal portions:

It's ready. Serve while the sauce is still hot. Dig in!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks! It looks delicious! I hope I'll have time cooking it following your recipe. :)


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