Friday, July 24, 2015

Feast Your Eyes: Ray's Copper River Salmon

When it comes to seafood choices, you may think salmon is overrated. And sometimes, I would 100% agree with you: Dry, overcooked salmon with plain rice and broccoli gets old, fast.
Sad, sad salmon 

But sushi-grade salmon tartare, smoked Nova Lox, or different varieties of wild-caught salmon are a whole other story. Take Copper River sockeye salmon, for example: It's rich, flavorful, full of good-for-you Omega-3s and oh-so-tasty served over fresh, lightly roasted veggies.
You are LYING if you say you don't want to gobble this up immediately!

Starting mid-May and through the summer, Copper River salmon makes its appearance in the Alaskan waters and makes its way down to select Atlanta restaurants. Ray's on the River is one of those lucky restaurants (as are its sisters, Ray's in the City and Ray's at Killer Creek), and corporate executive chef Mike Fuller has dreamed up some mouthwatering dishes with the king of salmon.

Now, I'm lucky enough to be able to share one of Fuller's recipes with you! I give you
Peppered Copper River salmon with arugula rice grits and blood orange salad:
Drooling... 
Ingredients (serves four): 
2 cups local baby arugula, separated
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 Tbsp almonds
1 tsp fresh garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil, separated
2 cups cooked rice grits (Anson Mills, cooked according to package directions)
4 7-oz block cut Copper River salmon filets
2 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp Tellicherry black pepper, freshly ground
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 blood oranges
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

To prepare grits: 
In a Robocoupe or Vitamix combine 1 cup arugula with basil, almonds, garlic, 1 Tbsp olive oil and blend until smooth. Scrape pesto into a small mixing bowl. Combine the cooked rice with the pesto in the mixing bowl, season to taste. Keep mixture warm while preparing salmon.

To prepare salmon: 
Season salmon with a pinch of salt and a good amount of fresh ground pepper. Heat a sautee pan and 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter until melted. Sear salmon -- serving side first -- over medium-high heat, turning once about every four minutes until browned on both sides and cooked to medium in the center.

To prepare the blood orange salad: 
Peel and remove the membrane from the whole oranges. Squeeze remaining parts into a small sauce pot. Add fresh orange juice to squeezed pulps and heat over medium-high heat until liquid is reduced by 75%. Toss remaining arugula with the orange segments, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp orange juice reduction in a clean mixing bowl.

To plate: 
Place a mound of rice grits mixture in the center of the plate. Top the rice with salmon. Top the salmon with arugula and oranges. Drizzle remainder of the orange reduction around the perimeter of the plate.

Wine pairing: 
A light, crisp Sauvignon Blanc, like Cloudy Bay.