Saumon fumé à la graine de moutarde et ses œufs Mireille.
With the 2010 Alaskan salmon season and Easter in sight, a classical manipulation of sockeye salmon. Cured, rubbed with stone ground mustard seeds and smoked. Eggs, symbolic of rebirth, stuffed with their yolks and scraps of the salmon.
A well chosen side of ruby red sockeye salmon was chosen; fresh, firm, no gaping in the flesh from either improper handling or brutish butchering. Pin bones were carefully removed and the side was pared to eliminate edges that would cure too fast and dry out. The salmon was cured in a modest 6%/3% sea salt/honey mixture and left to cure for 48 hours in a flat pan so that it could rest in its brine, like many of you have done after getting twisted for 2 days straight.
The side was rinsed clean, patted dry, covered with 2% ground yellow mustard seeds and left to dry in the refrigerator so that the pellicule could form, essential for allowing the smoke flavor to “stick”. The ad hoc smoking device was dusted off and fired up with a new heat source. The crappy device in question is the venerable file cabinet smoker, a 2 drawer metal file cabinet that is as porous as any GOP social/environmental policy and unfortunately smokes the apartment more than anything. The mustard seeds were ground in a stone mill, seen the foreground of the top picture, a diminutive version of that used to mill rice flour and pixie dust.
The bottoms of both drawers were removed and a rack placed at the bottom of the top drawer. A variable electric hotplate rests at the front of the cabinet’s base and smokes whatever rests on the rack towards the rear so that it is not directly over the heat source. Wood chips sit in a metal bowl over the hot plate and are heated to the point of smoking. Smoke fills the cabinet, escapes through seam sand when the back door of the apartment is opened, the draft fills the apartment with smoke. Doesn’t really function like a Swiss watch; more like a knock off Polex. Ideally a chimney would lead the smoke away from the alcove but that is more work than is necessary and the charm of a mesquite flavored couch is a good conversation piece; though a longer extension cord for alley smoking might work.
The thing was smoked for 12 magic minutes, left to relax on the counter for a bit then wrapped and refrigerated. 24 hours later the salmon was sliced: thinly, evenly, consistently…zenly. Room temperature raw eggs were brought to a simmer in a an appropriately fitting pot with just enough water to cover, then removed from the fire and left to slowly cook resulting in a creamy, coagulated yolk that will emulsify rather than a dry, crumbly, chalky center –all without the use of bullshit aquarium heater gadgetry.
Oeufs Mireille are essentially Mediterranean deviled eggs, generally augmented by cooked tuna and/or cured anchovies. In this case circles were punched out of the tail end slices and the scraps were processed by the robotic blade machine along with the yolks, capers, whole grain mustard, tarragon, thumbtacks, sour cream, olive oil, white wine vinegar and a pinch of espelette. The eggs were filled with the mixture and covered with the disc of salmon.
Swimming upstream without a smoker? Hardly. Overall, a successful dish. No qualms other than the smoky apartment. The salmon almost had a pastrami thing going. Properly seasoned, pleasantly salty and the hint of mustard seed along the edge of the slices provided a spicy and textural contrast. The deviled eggs would have gotten me a photocopy of the receptionist’s pressed ham breasts if I had brought them to a holiday office party, ie: they were that good.