Monday, July 6, 2009

Salmon on the Grill

There was much salmon consumed yesterday - all of it good.

As they do with lobsters from Maine or eastern Canada in May the local market flies in a plane load of fresh salmon from Alaska each July. The fish are sold whole, but after purchasing the fishmongers will fillet and cut the salmon to you specifications. We opted for a ten pound fish and had it simply left in two sides. There was an event on Friday involving a salmon cook-off so we opted to go for the winning recipe on Sunday. The before shot is pictured above, while the after shot is pictured below.

The fish was seared quickly on an open grill on the flesh side, then flipped over and basted with a freshly made barbecue sauce and finished cooking with the skin side down. The sauce consisted of butter, soy sauce, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, toasted sesame oil, ketchup, and a touch of hot, Chinese mustard. All this was melted and whisked over very low heat until thoroughly combined. A portion was set aside for cooking and the rest used as an after cooking sauce for those who wanted more on their fish.

The best part of cooking the fish this way is that those who like their fish more well done can have their serving from the tail section while those who prefer it more rare can take theirs from a thicker portion of the fish. Between nine of us we managed to eat the entire fish, saving some skin to go in Scott's dog food for the next couple of days.

The fish was the star of the day, but there was wine and most of it was very disappointing. Often an unusual little bottle will shine or a bigger wine with a better reputation will delight. On occasions the reverse is true and we had two wines that failed miserably, not because they didn't go with the fish but simply because they weren't very good wines.

The first, served with some shrimp, was a 2006 Walter Hansell, Russian River Valley, Cahill Vineyard chardonnay. This was a poor effort from this winery. There was pineapple fruit and some citrus up front, and there was good acid, but the fruit died immediately and the acid did much the same. There was almost no balance to this wine. It tried to be buttery, but tasted more liked rancid butter. Given the vineyard's location and the price of the wine I would have to think this was simply a bad bottle. Since it was the only bottle there was no chance to try another.

Next up with the salmon was a 2006 Georges Dubœuf Fleurie Château des Bachelards. This was a dead wine. The fruit was gone and there was little left but dirt and acid with a little tannin thrown in for good measure.

Since the weather was unusually cool for July 5 we opened a much bigger wine after dinner. The wine was a 2001 Possum's Vineyard, McLaren Vale Shiraz. This was a full flavored, jammy wine that never slipped over the edge into the syrupy wines for which I don't care. There was still great acid and tannin in the finish and the wine was well balanced. It was still a little big for my taste, but after two bad experiences it was nice to end the evening sipping a good wine.

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