King salmon, swimming with blueberries
A Good Appetite: A sweet-and-sour sauce holds the berries' sugar in check. Recipe: Salmon with Agrodolce Blueberries
The New York Times
Usually when I have pristine, pricey fish, I like to keep things simple. A quick sear in a pan or under the broiler, a little salt, pepper and lemon — that's all you need.
But this time I wanted something a bit glitzier. I was having friends over, and a plain piece of fish, no matter how regal, seemed too spartan.
So I paired fat, glistening pink fillets of Pacific king salmon with a seasonal treat: fresh local blueberries.
The berries would have been cloying with the fish by themselves, so I simmered them with white wine and vinegar, creating a sweet-and-sour sauce inspired by Italian agrodolce.
I also added shallots, cinnamon and thyme for complexity, and a touch of honey to round everything out. It turned out to be summery and bright tasting, yet deep and nuanced at the same time.
The bracing blueberry agrodolce would have worked wonderfully on other fish, especially oily ones like mackerel and swordfish. I could also see spooning it over boneless chicken thighs before roasting, or pairing it with meaty pork tenderloin or chops that have just come off the grill in all their smoky glory.
But the buttery salmon was its partner that night, and the piquant agrodolce worked well, with the acid cutting through the fish's richness while the fruity sweetness highlighted the saline succulence.
What really floored us, though, were the colors: pink from the fish and purple from the berries. It was a stunning dinner as well as a delicious one, two delights on one plate.
SALMON WITH AGRODOLCE BLUEBERRIES
Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
6 eight-ounce fillets wild king salmon
Sea salt, as needed
Vegetable oil for baking sheet
2 shallots, peeled and very thinly sliced
11/2 cups white wine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
1 1/3 cups blueberries
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
1. Run your fingers over the salmon flesh and pull out any pin bones. Season fish generously with salt and let rest at room temperature while you prepare the sauce. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil a large baking sheet.
2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, simmer together shallots, wine, vinegar, thyme, cinnamon and a pinch of salt until most of the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. Toss in blueberries, butter and honey; cook until berries soften and turn the sauce pink, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs.
3. Place salmon on baking sheet. Spoon berry mixture over salmon and season with pepper. Bake until salmon is cooked to desired doneness, 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare.