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WFD: Coho Salmon, green beans, and a great fines herbs white wine butter sauce

August 11, 2007

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We have a Whole Foods close to work, and I have to admit to frequenting it quite a bit recently. Nothing wrong with Whole Foods of course in the grand scheme of things. They have lots of organic produce, and a really pretty decent fish counter (still not a patch on Mutual Fish though). My problem really is that they are the “walmart” of organic stores. They are huge. They have everything. They make it easy to shop there. They charge a lot for what they have (but their fish counter is actually pretty reasonable) though if you ask me (ok.. that one isn’t like walmart). I have bought quite a bit of salmon from them, halibut, whole red snapper, scallops and squid. All has been pretty decent. A couple of times I have bought mussels from them, there was no where else close to this store that would have done any better. Unfortunately they were pretty terrible. This happened twice. After I get funky seafood from a place twice, I tend to avoid that product there. I would generally avoid the whole store, but in this case the rest of their stuff is pretty decent. Oh, and their “local” signs on products are misleading to me. I have seen “local” signs on produce that is from California. For me, that is a 8 hour drive into Northern California. That isn’t local to me. But enough about Whole Foods.. The only reason I am mentioning them is that we got the coho from them today, and it was really fabulous.

 I am a huge fan of large vegetable servings. I cannot get enough of them. There is no reason to scrimp on them. Most veggies taste amazing, and are really good for you (duh..). That has always been me though. Even when I was a wee nipper I loved my vegetables. A twin brother hated any food that was green, that was great for me.. I ate his share when he totally wouldn’t finish his veggies. At primary school (kindergarten in the US) we had to eat all our vegetables before we could leave the table. I was the kid that everyone wanted to sit by at lunch. If they didn’t want their veggies, you could pretty much reckon on me eating them. A perfect midweek dinner for me is some great fish on top of some just as great vegetables. If you pair this with white wine and some butter, heck it just gets better!

I picked up some green beans at the market earlier this week, and was wanting to use them. Some were going a bit manky, so it was definitely time to use them. Beans to me work great with a light sauce. They have a delicate flavor, and like to pair this with a delicate light, summery sauce. So the sauce. What is fines herbs you might ask? Well, it originated in France. It is simply a mix of “soft leaf” herbs. Flat leaf parsley, tarragon, chives, chervil, dill are all good examples. You really need at least three to make a good fines herbs, and if you ask me parsley should always be in there. If you are making it for salmon, then dill should be in there too – the quintessential salmon herb. So just lightly chop up the herbs of your choice. The result is brilliant. Really aromatic, light and flavorful. The sauce couldn’t be easier, just cook down a couple of glasses of white wine, until reduced by about half. Whisk in a tablespoon of butter off the heat, and throw in the chopped herbs. This produces a fantastically light sauce, that is based somewhat on a beurre blanc, all be it no where near as heavy. If you have them, some shallots in the wine cooking down is great too. That was the plan for today, but I suddenly realised I had used them all up this week.

A lot of people don’t consider butter “healthy”. Muppets the lot of them. I would honestly never go near margarine. Marg is a great example of industrialisation gone bad. Really bad. Hyrdogenated oils (trans fats) are terrible. New York has banned them, and for bloody good reason. The complete opposite is a decent butter. What is decent butter to me? I am not going to get into the complexities of different types of butter. What I will yabber on about though is grass fed organic butter. Cows fed on grass (now there is a new concept….) produce butter that has Omega-3’s in, which are good for you. The saturated fat in organic grass fed butter really isn’t too bad either. Trans fats are bad, and there is a growing movement showing that saturated fats aren’t that bad for you. You can pick up some local butter at farmers markets. If you cannot, then Organic Valley is the next best thing – their cows are apparently grass fed. I like to use small amounts of butter. To me butter is really rich, and you don’t need a lot of it. Food swamped in butter is not tasty to me, flavors get masked, not enhanced.

On to the salmon. The fish is pan seared in olive oil on both sides, to give a good crispy skin, and a great color to the salmon’s flesh.

The green beans are simply steamed until tender, and then tossed with some salt. The beans are put on a plate, the sauce poured over, and the salmon put on top. A really easy mid week meal, that comes together in about 15 minutes. And, not being big headed, tastes fantastic. Bloody fantastic.

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