Poached Salmon on Leeks
Happy St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish throughout time have been associated with the positive personality traits of friendliness, open hearts, hospitality, and good humor, mixed with a knack for good storytelling, but what about the traditions of their food?
In my own family, St. Patrick’s Day was always marked with a meal of ham and cabbage served with boiled or mashed potatoes, and perhaps scones sliced and served with butter, a meal of simplicity but made to seem as grand and honorable as it was to be lucky enough to be Irish.
The ham and cabbage or, corned beef and cabbage, as others also may have shared at family tables on St. Patrick’s Day provided similarities of foods commonly sustained in the old country on this day with what was available in the new country, while maintaining tradition and recognizing their heritage in the national holiday of their past.
Though many a relative past annually celebrated the Irish nationality of their homeland and ancestors on St. Patrick’s Day, within the genre of storytelling, many too among the massive Diaspora, stopped short on details of recent or past family histories, mine among them. Still, the same as in my own immediate family this annual holiday managed to create an everlasting, almost sacred inescapable embedding of the heart, an intrigued bonding and care always tied to this small island, the country of Ireland.
With ever so little knowledge on family past, and much naivete, after having received a bit of money some years back through my deceased Grandmother born and raised in Ireland, my sisters, Carolyn, Michelle and I determined to make the pilgrimage together, in honor and memory of our grandmother on my father’s side hailed from Galway. Honestly, that is essentially the little we knew as we boarded the flight across the pond simply to pour our hearts into exploring the region from which she came, and between us that was enough. Incidentally, the year prior through my job at the time, tasked with coordinating an event celebrating Ireland and to give you an idea on my knowledge base, even requiring correction on the proper pronunciation of this Grandmother’s last name, Fahey, pronounced like Faaa-hy.
Besides the unmistakable beauty of this place, even the scent in the air was so fresh and clean, as we three independent, fashionable young women with distinctive tastes shortly discovered, the food in Ireland was amazing, and no matter where we stopped, everything we tasted seemed prepared with such skill along with great pride, care and attention to detail from the small lunch pub to the upscale.
Already accustomed to many contradictions of this culture, we had arrived to embrace little expectations in the culinary area, notably, since the three of us generally eat yogurt for breakfast, rather fearing a culmination of these overeating- breakfasts loaded with fats and meat that might be the main food to sustain us until the next twenty-four hour overload might appear.
Please let me share with perhaps the only relative certainty on anything Irish I can, these breakfasts were created not unlike many cultures in history throughout the world, providing enough food each morning to sustain the energy of those peoples who would, following the meal, then go on to toil hard work in fields or labor. Following this, reminiscent of a form of hospitality past, engaging overeating former compatriots as an expectation in tourism, and perhaps, just perhaps, a little sense of humor attached.
Notwithstanding Ireland is supposed to be a rainy place, my sisters and I encountered one rain shower our entire week-long visit. Then, we thought wow, the people of Ireland must love Americans to purchase homes there for everywhere we went people kept encouraging us to consider buying a home there. Later informed there must have been a realtor’s convention in the region at the time, I now concede this unusual encouragement must have been due to either our shared delight and appreciation in the experience, or the very good looks, high energy, and overall magnetic attraction that Carolyn and Michelle tend to create wherever they land. Still, one thing must be certain, Ireland for a long time has been providing very good quality foods both in its restaurants and in its food products and local ingredients.
I must admit that my St. Patrick’s Day Post was the most challenging Post I have yet created on this Blog, mainly, because I wanted to make it special and really did not know what to share. Truth is, I still do love ham and cabbage with potatoes, scones and butter, and all of the simplicity historically within. However, Ireland food has so much more to offer and I very much wanted to reflect this too.
A bit of luck and inspiration came my way when there on one of my Food Groups on Linked In was an article shared by a woman named Margaret Jeffares who founded an organization called Good Food Ireland. I must say I was amazed and excited on this brilliant idea collaborating an essential cooperative between much of what quality Ireland food has to offer in the broad scope from the farm and artisan ingredients to quality food experiences in restaurants, accommodations, and Cookery Schools.
Adding to the list of positive and talented attributes among the Irish, is the entrepreneurial spirit of Margaret propelling a concept that surely benefits her country as well. The Good Food Ireland Web Site is attractive, very comprehensive, and designed for your enjoyment, oh so easy to utilize in planning your trip to Ireland even purchasing an authentic Ireland food ingredient. Recently Good Food Ireland has made its international debut, which will in the future perhaps provide the opportunity of easily purchasing best quality Ireland food ingredients accessibly. I think you would enjoy learning more about Good Food Ireland and I hope to share more of this organization with you in the near future and meanwhile I’ve included the web link here.
For today, I purchased Kelly Gold Pure Irish Butter of which I used preparing the celebration meal symbolic of Irish foods in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Actually, I purchased two of these 8-ounce creamy delights, one as part of the host gift at a lovely St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Party last evening, where the thoughtful and delicious well prepared meal included Roast Leg of Lamb, Brussels Sprouts, and Mashed Potatoes. Jim, one of the evening guests prepared a Sweet Irish Bread toward the dessert table that he had also used the Kerry Gold Butter to prepare, it was richly exceptional and I share the photo with you below on this buttery, moist and flavorful treat.
The Kerry Gold Irish Butter and the concept of Good Food Ireland ended up to tie in well together and provide a good example on St. Patrick’s Day, that no matter how much or how little you know about Ireland or your Irish ancestry, the spirit linking the heritage on this day always embeds our hearts in a special bonding to the small island, the country of Ireland. Eirinn go Brach. God Bless All and Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
- For the Salmon:
- 1-1 1/2 pounds fresh salmon
- 1/2 onion, peeled and sliced
- whole peppercorns, enough to scatter lightly over salmon
- 4-6 Bay Leaves
- 1/2 cup white wine
- water, enough to barely cover salmon for poaching
- For the Sauteed Leeks and Scallions:
- 2 leeks, white part only, rinsed, sliced very thinly then cut in half to create about one and a half to two inch bite size pieces
- 6 Scallions, white and green parts, rinsed and very thinly sliced lengthwise, then cut in half for bite size pieces
- 2 Tablespoons Kerry Gold Irish Butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- For the Parsleyed Potatoes:
- 8 Mini Red Potatoes,
- 8 Mini White Potatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1 1/2- 2 tablespoons Kerry Gold Irish Butter
- a couple pinches each coarse kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- For the Mashed Potatoes Piped in Bella Mushrooms with Radish Sprouts:
- 2 large russet potatoes, peeled, cubed
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 Tablespoons Kerry Gold Butter
- few pinches coarse kosher salt
- For the Mushrooms:
- 16 Baby Bella Mushrooms cleaned with a damp paper toweling
- 1-2 Tablespoons Kerry Gold Butter
- couple pinches coarse kosher salt
- handful small radish sprout sprigs to top piped mashed potatoes in cooked mushrooms and the poached salmon
- Preparing the Salmon: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay salmon in a glass dish long enough to hold fish flat across. Scatter sliced onion across the top of the salmon. Sprinkle over the peppercorns and bay leaves. Add enough cold water to barely cover the salmon then pour in a half cup of white wine. Cover dish with aluminum foil and cook salmon around twenty minutes until just cooked. Carefully drain the liquid, remove onions, peppercorns and bay leaves, transfer salmon to a platter, refrigerate to cool
- Preparing the Leeks and Scallions: Melt Irish Butter in a medium sized saute pan, stir in the leeks and cook on very low heat until softened, around four to five minutes, then stir in the sliced scallions, continue cooking another two minutes, season with salt and pepper
- Preparing the Parsleyed Potatoes: Cook mini red and white potatoes in salted boiling water until fork tender all the way through, drain, then tumble potatoes into a warmed pan with the melted Irish Butter, toss gently, sprinkle in the fresh chopped parsley, sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt and pepper.
- Preparing the Mashed Potatoes to pipe into the Mushroom Caps: (may be prepared a day in advance and reheated in microwave just before piping) In a small bowl lightly beat the egg yolk with heavy cream, set aside. Cook russet potato cubes in salted, boiling water until fully tender and cooked, drain, transfer potatoes back to the pan, heat on low heat for a half minute or longer to dry potatoes a bit, while using a potato masher to mash, turn off heat, add in the Irish butter, mash, pour in the egg yolk/heavy cream mixture, mash, sprinkle in the salt, check seasoning, adjust to taste.
- Preparing the Baby Bella Mushrooms: While russet potatoes are cooking melt the butter in a saucepan, tumble in the mushrooms cooking on medium high heat to sear then shaking the pan, stir, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, cook around 3-5minutes, transfer to a plate until ready to pipe into potatoes
- Assembling the Poached Salmon and Leeks: Using tongs, evenly set the sauteed leeks and scallions into the center of the plate, top with a Poached Salmon Filet, sprinkle with a few sprigs of radish sprouts. Use a paper towel to dab the inside of the mushrooms removing any accumulated juice, pipe in the hot mashed potatoes, top each with radish sprout