Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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May 21, 2013

Poached Salmon with Cucumber Raita

Libations used: 1 1/2 cups white wine...
Libations left over:  About half a bottle, so serve with dinner...
About a month ago, one of my best friends had us over for dinner and served us some delicious baked salmon with raita, an Indian yogurt sauce.  I wanted to replicate the recipe, but of course needed to find a way to incorporate some booze.  This Poached Salmon with Cucumber Raita from Food & Wine involves a white wine broth with plenty of herbs to quickly cook the fish.  The ingredients are simple and healthy, and the recipe takes no time at all — perfect for those harried weeknights.  The amount of raita this recipe makes is slightly ridiculous, but it's good enough to eat out of the bowl (yeah, that happened before I had time to spoon it on the fish) and is perfect for spreading in pita sandwiches the next day.  I served the fish with some arugula (thank you, Maggie's Farms!) on the side to mix in with the raita.

Poached Salmon with Cucumber Raita - serves 4
  • 3 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated
  • 1 3/4 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 quarts water
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine (I used Toasted Head Chardonnay)
  • 3 Tbs white vinegar
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 9 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2-2 lbs center-cut salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
  • Paprika for garnish
- In a medium glass or stainless-steel bowl, add the cucumber with 1 tsp of the salt.
- Let the cucumber sit for 10 minutes.
- Using your hands, squeeze the grated cucumber and discard all the liquid.
- Return the grated cucumber to the bowl and add the yogurt, garlic, mint and ground pepper.
- Refrigerate until you're ready to serve.
- In a large pan or Dutch oven, add the water, wine, vinegar, onion, carrot, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaves and 2 1/4 tsp of the salt.
- Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 10 minutes.
- Add the fish to the liquid and bring back to a simmer.
- Let the fish simmer, partially covered, for about 4 minutes, or until the fish is barely done.  It should still be translucent in the center.
- Remove the pan or Dutch oven from the heat and let the fish remain in the liquid for about 2 minutes.
- Transfer to plates and serve warm or at room temperature.
- Spoon the raita onto the fish and sprinkle some paprika on top.