Saturday, August 7, 2010

Market finds: Salmon & Blueberries

I love salmon, but I never buy it. I hate buying frozen fish because it just never tastes right to me. So, I knew for this recipe that I wanted some fresh salmon. Last week, I'd had some bad luck with the fresh trout from my local grocery store.

It stank. Fish shouldn't stink like fish. That means it's old.

So, I headed off to the St. Lawrence Market. You know that episode of the Simpsons where Homer dreams of the Land of Chocolate? And he frolicks through the place taking bites? Yeah, that's me at this market.

This is the South Market (picture taken from their homepage)
If you ever visit Toronto, make this one of your stops. Great custard tarts, cheese samples and a honey vendor in the basement that will let you taste all of his wares.

It was a beautiful day for walking to the market, see? Twenty-five degrees and zero humidity. LOVE it.

Facing away from the Market, down Front Street
So, when I got home with the wares, I was eager to start cooking.

Okay, the wine was for me, not the salmon.
Now, I'd read the reviews for this over on epicurious, and they weren't the most flattering. Most seemed to say that the vinegar overpowered the blueberries or that the combination of blueberry and salmon was just plain weird. I was comfortable with the sweetness of my blueberries (local Ontario ones!) having sampled more than my fair share, but all the same, I reduced the vinegar down from 1 tbsp to 2 tsp.

I served the whole thing with israeli couscous with sunflower seeds and some grilled zucchini. We even brought out the wedding china for the meal! And, I must say, the whole thing plated up beautifully.

Not bad, huh?

Now, I definitely ran into a big problem. Even with the reduction of the vinegar (and my confidence in my berries), the balsamic flavour overwhelmed the flavour of the blueberries, which was a real disappointment. It was pretty harsh. I added a ½ cup of additional berries, which helped a bit, but didn't solve the problem. I think replacing the balsamic vinegar with something more mild - like rice or champagne vinegar (or even lemon juice) would make a difference. The blueberries need something to complement them, not to work against them. Even with those changes, I'd recommend adding the vinegar a little at a time, and checking the seasoning as you go.

I will say, the mint MAKES this dish. I wasn't convinced that it would add anything good to it, but it really harmonizes the flavours.

For dessert, we had leftover Yellow Plum & Apricot Cake that I'd made the previous day:

It's delicious! Try it!
Oh, and we got a great wine to work with the salmon: Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages 2009. It's got great berry flavours and really balances the richness of the salmon.

Not an insipid Beaujolais-Nouveau! Bright berry flavours here.
Overall, I don't know that I'd make this recipe again (definitely not until the balance of flavours gets figured out), but I did enjoy it. It's a 3 star dish as I made it. I do think the sauce would also work with venison or bison. I think the use of blackberries in place of the blueberries could also be the tweaking this recipe needs.


  1. I had also read those reviews on epicurious and had thought twice before posting this recipe. But I thought I'd give it a go anyway and wee what the August Cooks came up with! I might try it with apple cider vinegar instead.

  2. Oh, good. I forgot to pick up a bottle of balsamic vinegar and was going to get it today... I'll just use lemon juice instead! :)

  3. I think it's got a lot of potential. Thinking about it today, I wonder if they meant you should use REAL balsamic (the thick, sweet stuff) rather than the commercially produced goodness. I have some raspberry vinegar (the thick stuff) that I use for ice cream, that might have been a better substitute.