Inspiration comes in many forms. I find myself inspired by the lunches Japanese students bring to school that are so carefully prepared and planned by their mothers. Inspiration creeps in while riding my bike down the street and passing a noodle shop that smells like rich miso broth and sounds like grateful soup slurpers. Other times, inspiration finds its way into my mind by opening up a book. A cookbook, that is. It’s no secret that we all have different moments that give us that creative jolt to come up with the next great idea, whether it is in the kitchen, at the office, or elsewhere. That’s the beauty of creating. It happens differently for each of us and the result, though not always what we imagined, becomes just what we need to continue developing ideas.
For this recipe, my inspiration came from David Chang. Chang’s recipe for miso butter in his cookbook, Momofuku, is a simple combination of salty miso paste and creamy butter. But oh, the possibilities that come from these two simple ingredients are endless. I modified the miso butter recipe slightly for the wine dinner. Using equal parts miso paste and butter resulted in a perfectly creamy, flavorful base for crisp, green sugar snap peas, rich, perfectly cooked salmon, and a gorgeous fried egg with a bright orange yolk.
For the wine dinner I used a fried quail egg. Let me just say that was the worst idea ever. Oh, it turned out beautifully in the end, but it was madness trying to break open all those little eggs for 40 people! And then frying them?!? Long story short: What was I thinking? So, since quail eggs are difficult to find for some, I’ve substituted a regular, sunny-side-up egg in this post. Feel free to use whatever you like- they both make a gorgeous presentation! I have a pretty serious love affair going on with eggs, so anytime I can top a meal with one I jump at the chance.
When you shop for salmon, make sure to look for thick lines of white running through the flesh and try to smell it if you can. It should be odorless. Having adequate fat in the salmon ensures it won’t dry out when you cook it. For the wine dinner, we used Scottish salmon from Coastal Seafoods (if you live in the Twin Cities and aren’t already buying your seafood there, get on it!) that was just perfect. Here in Japan we are fortunate to find plenty of salmon year round (yay!). It looks like this:
As the main entree, this dish was perfectly paired with a 2007 Deux Amis Zinfandel. When Kurt told me he was going to pair the salmon with a Zinfandel, I was skeptical. But as I’ve said before, Kurt is a master when it comes to wine (he has several awards for Best Wine List from Wine Enthusiast to prove it!) so I went with it. It turns out that the Zinfandel stood up nicely to the miso butter, salmon, and egg without overpowering the dish. Perfection.
Here are the recipes and pairings we have covered so far:
Only one more post to go! Are you ready for dessert?
Salmon with Miso Butter, Snap Peas, & a Fried Egg
4 center cut salmon steaks, skin on
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 cup shiro (white) miso paste, room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
Salt and Pepper
Lightly pat the salmon dry with a paper towel. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the miso paste and butter. Stir until smooth and fully incorporated. Use a pastry brush to smear about 1/4 cup of miso paste in the center of each serving plate. Arrange the sugar snap peas on top of the miso butter in one layer. Set the plates aside while you cook the salmon and eggs.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. After about 1 or 2 minutes, add about 4 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Wait for the oil to heat, about 1 minute, and add the salmon, skin side down. (The pan should be hot enough that it immediately sizzles when the fish is placed in the oil.) Allow the fish to cook on one side for about 3 minutes. Flip the fish and cook or another 2 minutes for medium-rare. Cook for 3-4 minutes if you’d like your fish more done.
Carefully remove the salmon from the pan and put on a plate. Set aside.
In the same pan you used for the salmon, fry the eggs in the olive oil until the whites are firm (but do not flip for sunny side up). If the whites are not done and it seems the bottom is getting too done, you can transfer the eggs to a lined baking sheet and put them under the broiler, watching VERY carefully, until the whites have set.
While the eggs fry in the pan, place the salmon steaks on top of the sugar snap peas. When the eggs are done, put them on top of the salmon. Sprinkle with black pepper and red pepper flakes and serve immediately.