Salmon lends itself to a variety of cooking methods and flavor presentations, as found on local restaurant menus.
My intention to write about salmon for today’s column was triggered by a dish I discovered last May. I recently learned, to my disappointment, that this particular dish — a delicious salmon served over a shrimp risotto — had been pulled off the menu.
My disappointment was doubled, being that shrimp is another personal favorite. Fear not, shrimp lovers, for as I sleuthed out salmon dishes, I discovered several interesting shrimp dishes on local menus; that story will be forthcoming.
Indeed, on the quest to catch a bite of salmon, one discovers some creative preparations. Seafood lovers will be delighted to find another “double catch” at the Loop, namely the pan-seared salmon topped with crab. The prepared fish is presented atop a subtly flavored Cajun cream sauce. The crab goes beyond “basic crab,” being it is one of their house-prepared crab cakes. Overall, there is that perfect proportion of garlic and herbs to make this a standout dish. The dish is served with Yukon gold potatoes and roasted asparagus.
A completely different flavor profile manifests in the Loop’s Salmon Lo Mein. Here, the salmon is sauteed with roasted broccoli, red onion, zucchini and bell pepper. Adding the lo mein noodles and drizzling with a sweet chili glaze results is a fragrant, colorful dish.
Salmon takes another ethnic twist at the Grand Grill. Sauteed salmon is placed on a bed of salad, which consists of fresh spinach and Israeli couscous tossed in a homemade pomegranate vinaigrette along with pickled grapes.
Another lighter preparation, with a tropical flair, is offered at Outback Steakhouse. In anticipation of being in the company of steak lovers, you can’t go wrong heading here, where the steaks will satisfy the heartiest of appetites — the lamb too, for that matter; another culinary delight you will find me writing about in the weeks ahead.
Actually, Outback offers two preparations, though my favorite is the Firecracker Salmon. In this dish, wood-fired grilled salmon is glazed with Outback’s firecracker sauce, then topped with a fresh mango salsa. Neither the sauce nor the salsa is too hot to overpower the salmon, as there are only subtle notes of jalapeno and “fire.”
Not sure you want to go “fruity” with your salmon, then stick to their basic wood-fired grilled, lightly seasoned preparation.
For those open to a truly creative, amazing preparation, it is hard to top the Apple Butter Glazed Salmon at 300 First. When you see it plated, you will think you have all the food groups in one dish. It is prepared by first grilling salmon, which they lightly glaze with sweet brandy apple butter. The salmon is presented on a bed of spinach, red onion and green apples with house white rice then topped with crispy sweet potato strings.
An additional drizzle of the apple butter makes for grand presentation, of course adding additional flavor. (If you use your finger to lick up the last of the drizzle, you won’t be the first patron to do so.)
Not quite up for such a hearty meal? Then try 300 First’s cedar-planked salmon. This interesting cooking method allows the fish to steam gently in the heat of a grill while picking up the woodsy or cedar flavors of the plank cedar. The salmon turns out tender and moist.
While there are other salmon offerings to be found on local menus, the dishes I have highlighted here add a new dimension to salmon. However, don’t delay if you are interested in trying any of them, as restaurant menus are continually evolving.
Wine-lovers, watch here Feb. 25 to read about my interview with sommelier Xavi Torres to learn more about the way he approaches wine pairing, some menu great pairings and those difficult ones.
Mark your calendar for “Wines of the World,” 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. March 4 at the Rochester International Event Center. More than 200 wines along with craft beers and spirits will be available to sample.
Tickets are available at Great Harvest Bread or online through Bear Creek Services at bearcreekservices.org/events.php. Early bird ticket prices are in effect through Feb. 27.