“You can’t always get what you want…”
With wild sockeye salmon on sale, I planned out this recipe in my head before hitting the farmers market on Saturday morning. I knew I could find chanterelle mushrooms and spring onions (scallions) and the first English (or shelling) peas should just be coming in, but upon inspection, I found no English peas so I settled upon sugar snap peas and made this with the substitution. I also found garlic scapes (also called green garlic). These are the shoots from the garlic growing underground.
And herein lies a lesson. Sometimes you can’t always find the exact ingredient called for in a recipe so you have to rethink and substitute.
“But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.”
Several days later I found myself in Philadelphia and before coming home I made a swing through the Reading Terminal Market. Checking the Fair Food Farm Stand, I found them- fresh, local English peas. With peas in hand, a dinner with friends was in order.
This recipe has some extra steps you can ignore if you wish. I used the pods from the peas to make a stock with which I cooked the peas. In a restaurant-like twist, I cooked and pureed some peas to add at the end to enrich the sauce.
If you’re buying English peas at a farmers market, you’ll find that they’re sold in pint containers. Shell enough peas to make ½ cup (which will be about half the container), plus a few tablespoons more if you are doing the pea puree option. And yes, you can substitute with frozen peas, but then my wife wouldn’t eat them. (It has been a personal triumph to get her to eat peas at all, after the bad pea nightmares of her childhood).
Sockeye Salmon with English Peas, Chanterelles, and Spring Onions
Sockeye salmon often has pin bones that you can feel if you run your finger down the length of the fillet. They can be removed using needle nose pliers.
For two servings
Two 4 to 6 ounce fillets of sockeye (or other) salmon
½ cup (shelled) English peas
¼ pound chanterelle (or other) mushrooms
2 to 4 spring onions, depending on size, sliced
2 to 3 Tablespoons thinly sliced garlic scapes or 1 clove garlic, minced
olive oil, for cooking
¼ to ½ cup white wine
salt and ground black pepper
juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
pea stock (recipe below) or cold water
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
If you are planning to make the pea puree to stir into the sauce, begin with the recipe below the main recipe.
1. Trim the bottoms off the mushrooms. If you are using chanterelles, tear the larger ones lengthwise in half.
Place a medium-sized sauté pan onto the stove over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, swirl in 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the thyme leaves to the pan to flavor the oil then add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes. Add some white wine to the pan and continue cooking until the mushrooms are softened and cooked through. Transfer the mushrooms and their liquid to a bowl.
2. Return the pan to the stove and place over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, swirl in 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the green onions and garlic scapes. (If you are using garlic, add it after the spring onions have cooked for a few minutes). Stir and sauté until they begin to soften; do not brown, lowering the heat if necessary. Add the peas, season with salt and pepper. Add some stock or water to the pan, about ½ cup). Cover and lower the heat. Cook the peas for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender. Add additional stock/water as needed. When the peas are tender, remove pan from the heat. Stir in the reserved mushrooms with their liquid. Set aside while you cook the salmon.
3. Place a non-stick sauté onto the stove over high heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. When the pan is hot, swirl in about a tablespoon olive oil into the pan. Place the salmon into the pan skin side up and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then turn the salmon and continue cooking for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the thickness if the salmon. Remove the salmon from the pan and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Peel the skin off the salmon, if necessary.
4. Return the pan of vegetables to the stove. Bring the vegetables up to a simmer. Add the pea puree to the pan, if using; if not add a little more wine. Stir and simmer to slightly reduce the sauce. Stir in the lemon juice; add the butter and taste, adjusting the seasoning if needed.
5. Place the salmon fillets onto a plate. Spoon the vegetables and sauce over the salmon and serve.
You get what you need.
Pods from the peas
1 carrot, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
¼ of an onion, or some spring onion tops, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
4 to 5 cups cold water
1. Rinse the pea pods under cold water. Place them into a saucepan along with the other vegetables; cover with cold water, add the salt. Place the pan onto the stove over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, skimming off any foam that may appear on the surface. Remove pan from the heat and strain, reserving the liquid. Discard the vegetables. The stock may not have a lot of color but it will be flavorful from all of the vegetables. Set aside the finished pea stock. (This can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator until needed).
This is a thin, but flavorful puree to add to the vegetables before serving. Make this in advance.
1. Place ½ cup pea stock or lightly salted water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of peas to the pan and cook the peas until completely tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool slightly. Puree the mixture in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Set aside until needed.