Thursday, July 2, 2009

1080, Take One: Salmon Medallions Cooked in Egg and Bread Crumbs

Recipe modification. We all do it, and there's no shame in that. However, it is important to remember that it isn't the recipe's fault when a modified version flops. In this case it didn't flop, not even a little bit. It was actually very good. It just lost a piece of its soul. Rather than following the recipe to the letter and deep-frying the salmon like it said I made the healthier choice.

Boy, if I have a pet peeve about cooking it's when someone modifies a recipe then complains that the food isn't any good because the recipe was bad. I know one person in particular who regularly substitutes skim milk for heavy cream, omits butter, uses fat-free versions of anything she can get her hands on, and leaves out any ingredients that she hasn't heard of. Needless to say, her food isn't very good, and I often bite my tongue when she blames the recipe for the failure. Don't worry, I'm not going to do that. Like I said, it wasn't bad, just lacking in depth.

Here's the deal. Last night I chose a recipe from 1080 Recipes (this month's Cookbook Club pick!) and prepared it for dinner. After some consideration I chose Salmon Medallions Cooked in Egg and Bread Crumbs. Charlie very sweetly offered to run by the grocery store on his way home from work (an offer I took him up on) and brought home a lovely piece of salmon along with the other needed ingredients. Then I read the recipe. Hmm...what's wrong with this story? If this story was drawn out in steps, printed on cards, then placed before a child for sequencing, a smart child would put "Read the recipe" before "Send husband to the store for ingredients". In this story the smart child outsmarts the lady.

After reading the recipe I learned that the salmon medallions should be deep-fried, and I wasn't up for that. I didn't want to smell up the kitchen, and I didn't want to eat deep fried food, so I modified. I pan-fried, and I (probably) killed the thing that makes this dish special. Like I said, it was still very good. Charlie really enjoyed the sauce (creamy and tart -- very nice), and I found the pan-fried salmon paired nicely with the mushrooms. I'd really never considered breading and frying salmon in any way, and it was tasty.

Salmon Medallions Cooked in Egg and Bread Crumbs
*modified from a recipe in 1080 Recipes

8 oz mushrooms (I used baby bella)
2 Tbsp butter
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 egg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb salmon fillets, skinned
3/4 cup light cream

*NOTE: The original recipe serves six. In addition to changing the preparation of the salmon, I also modified the recipe to serve 2.

Put the mushrooms, butter, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt into a pan and cook over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, for 6 minutes.


Remove from the heat and keep warm. Beat the egg in a shallow dish, pour the flour into another shallow dish, and pour the bread crumbs into a third. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers and a cube of day-old bread browns in 30 seconds. (At this point you may choose to heat 4 cups of sunflower oil in place of the olive oil in order to deep-fry the salmon.)
Cut the salmon fillets into medallions and season with salt.


Coat first in the flour, then in the beaten egg, and finally in the bread crumbs.


Add the fish to the hot oil, in batches, and cook until golden brown.


Remove from oil and keep warm in a serving dish while you cook the remaining fish. Return the pan of mushrooms to low heat, gradually stir in the cream, and heat gently but do not let boil.


Pour the mushroom sauce over the salmon and serve immediately.

It was better served over soft basmati rice. The rice absorbed the sauce and tamed its acidic qualities. Steamed broccoli also made a nice accompaniment.


Don't get me wrong! It was good! It's just that I think I removed a tiny piece of its midnight-dinner-before-the-club, deep-fried, tapas-loving soul. So, I have this to say. Make this dish. Make it any way you like. But, if you want it to speak to you, deep fry the damn fish.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting point about the soul of the recipe. You obviously have a gift for cooking as well as very good taste.

    In my view, the first rule of modifying recipes is to do it "by the book" first. You have to know how the recipe really comes out before you can determine what modifications are best. Great post!

    Casual Kitchen