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Broiled Salmon with Fresh Rhubarb Sauce
By Charlie Burke

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We have several sorrel plants, and the tart, lemony leaves are a nice addition to
salads, as well as being an ingredient in a
classic sorrel sauce for salmon.

The plants are behind our rhubarb, however, which has stalks over two feet
tall. Fresh, wild salmon is in the markets now, and we had a beautiful fillet of
Sockeye, dark red and perfectly fresh, its color and texture so much better than
the anemic farm raised salmon we see the rest of the year.

The tartness of rhubarb is in the same range as that of sorrel, so I decided to
prepare a rhubarb sauce for dinner. I’ve found that star anise adds a
compatible flavor to rhubarb, as does ginger, so these were the basic
ingredients.

For liquid, small volumes of red wine and dark port were used, but water,
orange juice or other liquid could be used. Since lemon juice works alone so
well with fish, I saw no need to sweeten the sauce, but some sugar or maple
syrup can certainly be added to taste. Slicing the rhubarb very thin eliminates
long fibrous elements, so the sauce requires no straining.

Broiling fish is simple:  place the fish close to the broiler and cook it for ten
minutes per inch of thickness. The center should be barely opaque when done.
With salmon, some prefer it to be “rare”, so cooking time should then be a
minute or two shorter. The fish will continue cooking from retained heat, so
care should be taken not to overcook it.

The old instruction to cook the fish until it flakes results in its being overdone,
destroying the moist texture of wild salmon.

Four servings:

1 ½ pound fillet of fresh wild salmon
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced thin
1 star anise, pulverized
2 slices of fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dry red wine
2 tablespoons dark port
1 tablespoon orange zest
Chopped chives (optional)

Place the rhubarb and next five ingredients into a small sauce pan and cook
over medium heat until the rhubarb breaks down and the sauce thickens
slightly. Add a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper and taste.  Add sugar or
maple syrup if you wish to sweeten the sauce.

Preheat the broiler on high and place a rack close to the broiler. Lightly salt the
fillet and grind pepper evenly over the surface. Pour a small volume of olive
oil on the fillet and rub it over the surface. If there is a thin flap on one side,
fold it under to ensure even cooking. Place the fillet on an oiled shallow tray or
pan and place under the broiler. Cook for 10 minutes per inch of thickness
without turning the fillet.

Remove the fish from the oven and let it set for 5 minutes. Pour the sauce over
the salmon, sprinkle with chives, if using, and serve. We served it with
Japanese buckwheat noodles, in keeping with the vaguely oriental flavors of
ginger and star anise in the sauce and poured a full bodied dry Chardonnay.
It was a good feeling to have chives and rhubarb from our garden as part of our
meal, and we were reminded how versatile rhubarb can be when used in
savory preparations.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at
Weather Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
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