Today our inspiration is the color pink, and a unique pairing. Alright, I have to admit I strongly dislike the color pink. I even find it difficult to write on pink Post-It notes; however, I am lucky this aversion does not apply to nature or food! When we think of fresh summer fruit, currants don’t usually pop into my mind, not to mention pink ones! Well, I saw these Sunday at the La Jolla Open Aire Market (from Pudwill Farms), and was struck by how gorgeous they are. I didn’t have a clue what I’d do with them, since I don’t work with currants much, but I had to try & now here we are!
Currants are a cluster fruit related to the goose berry, and come in many varieties including red, white, and black. They hit peak of their growing season in Northern CA in mid June-September. These pink little guys somewhat resemble salmon eggs at first glance, so what the heck are we going to serve them with? Well, we’re going to pair them with a pink fish of course! Fresh, wild Sockeye Salmon to be exact. It’s in season now & a little pricier than other wild salmons out there, but absolutely fantastic. Get some while the gettin’s good!
What does a pink currant even taste like? I find them to be tangy little fruit balls, tart & bright, resembling that of a cranberry. Luckily, cranberry is one of my favorite fruits and I cook with them regularly, so I decided to prepare these into a rosy reduction, using a honey-infused white balsamic, white wine & orange zest. We take this deliciously, tangy-sweet compote & will put it against the likes of a creamy & salty, soft herb-crusted goat cheese; crisp biscuit dough tartlet rounds; and our lightly citrus marinated, pan-seared salmon fillet. So there you have it, Pink Currant & Wild Sockeye Salmon Tartlets with herb goat cheese. Now that’s a mouthful…but in a good way!
Sockeye Salmon & Pink Currant Tartlet with Herb Goat Cheese
A pretty pink pairing of fresh summer pink currants & in-season, fresh sockeye salmon, come together with herb goat cheese, a little fresh spinach and a buttery, crispy biscuit round to make for one, awesome tartlet. The bright flavors of pink currants are softened slightly by turning them into a honey balsamic citrus compote for topping our tart! A great, summer app!
What to get:
- 1 cup fresh pink currants, trimmed & rinsed
- 1/2 pound fresh, wild sockeye salmon fillet
- 1 4oz package herb crusted, soft goat cheese
- 1 can large, flaky biscuit dough (in can)
- 12 fresh leaves, small baby spinach
- white wine
- WeOlive honey white balsamic vinegar (subtle, much lighter than regular balsamic)
- orange for zesting
- dried dill weed
- WeOlive Meyer Lemon extra virgin olive oil
- cayenne pepper
For making pink currant compote:
- ~3 T white wine
- ~ 1 tsp orange zest
- pinch sea salt
- ~ tsp sugar
- ~ tsp honey white balsamic vinegar
For making salmon marinade:
- 1/4 cup white wine, like Chardonnay
- 1 tsp dried dill
- 1/2 tsp orange zest
- 1 T Meyer lemon-infused EVOO
- 2 tsp honey white balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- S&P to taste
What to do:
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Check salmon fillet for bones, and debone as necessary.
- De-stem, rinse and drain fresh currants.
- In medium bowl, combine all marinade ingredients above and stir well. Add in salmon fillet, flesh side down into marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit till cooking.
Make currant compote:
- in small saucepan on stove, let currants cook on low, adding wine, zest, salt, sugar and balsamic. let cook down slowly and thicken, stirring occasionally.
- Once liquid reduces and compote thickens remove from heat and set aside in a separate bowl.
- In medium skillet on stove, cook salmon skin-side down, adding all marinade juices into pan. Cook medium-low and cook till salmon slightly pinkness and flakes with a fork.
- Add a lid to cook through in the thicker portions as needed (Mine was a thicker slice and took about 15 minutes).
- Meanwhile on large baking sheet, prepare to bake biscuit rounds by carefully separating each raw biscuit segment from can. into ~3, thinner tartlet rounds for baking (lightly spray oil baking sheet before placing dough).
- Bake thinner rounds in oven until browned.
- Remove and let cool on top of stove.
- When all is cooked separately ready to assemble tartlets.
Assemble tartlets on warm biscuit rounds:
- Place ample herb goat cheese on each warm round
- to cheese add small, fresh spinach leaf, some cooked salmon, another small spinach leaf and top with ample pink current compote.
- Repeat for each and serve lightly warm, so cheese will slightly melt.
These slightly warm tartlets get their crispy/buttery crust element using easy, canned biscuit dough, which you can peel into thinner rounds. When dealing with your salmon, be careful to check for bones. My cut had a large spine of them running through. You can cook fish first and remove, but I remove with kitchen tweezers first, and the bones in salmon can be a little stubborn to pull out! Once you get them out of there, the fish is good to marinate.
My currants were quite tart still, so adding a little sugar & the slight sweetness of the honey white balsamic, helped to mellow them to the perfect flavor for our salmon.
Let the biscuit rounds get thoroughly browned & cooled slightly before topping.
from the kitchen of www.dinnervine.com
We bring in other subtle flavors of dill, white wine, orange zest & Meyer lemon-infused olive oil in the marinade to thank as well. It was a random concoction, but turned out really delicious! When it comes to your salmon, be sure to check for bones. I had to tweeze out about a dozen good sized ones prior to cooking, but you can ask your butcher to do this in some cases. It was worth it because the cut of fish was so fresh and you can tell by its rich, pink color.
I even had a matching wine to go with all of it; an off dry, Pinot Noir rosé , and it complimented the flavors of our little tartlets really well! If you like the idea of cream cheese with smoked salmon, and like to pair salmon with light citrus, this will be up your alley. Though we serve this tartlet slightly warmed, and it is perfect for a light meal or pre-dinner. These are easy to assemble because we cook the salmon in a skillet, biscuit rounds in the oven, and currant compote on the stove, all separately. Then you simply layer, and you create one pretty awesome appetizer to serve, even if it only looks like caviar….