Escalopes de Saumon Gigondas

Salmon with Crayfish and Red Wine Sauce


Red wine sauces are used almost exclusively with meat or poultry in France; this recipe is an exception. Here Gigondas, a full-bodied red wine from the Rhône valley, adds taste and colour to a dark crayfish-flavoured sauce, which is served with sautéed salmon fillets; the overall effect is stunning and the taste of the wine perfectly complements that of the fish.

As is the rule with other dishes that emphasize the taste of a specific wine, the wine used for making the sauce should also be served to accompany the fish.

NOTE: Frozen crayfish can be used for this recipe, but they must be defrosted first.

1 whiting or 450 g (1 lb) mild flavoured white fish, such as haddock, plaice, sole and brill, with bones and/or heads
1 medium leek, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
Parsley stalks
1 sprig thyme
1 bar leaf
300 ml (I0 fl oz) dry white wine
600 ml (20 fl oz) water

1.25 kg (2.5 lb) salmon Fillet, skinned
1 kg (2 lb) uncooked crayfish
Salt and freshly ground pepper
165 g (5.5 oz) butter
2 shallots, Finely chopped
700 ml (1.25 pints) red wine from the Côtes du Rhône (preferably Gigondas)
1 tomato, coarsely chopped

15 ml (1 tbsp) flour
15 g (1/2 oZ) butter, softened

6 large murhrooms, trimmed, cleaned,and cut into julienne
225 g (8 oz) spring onions
15 ml (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
Chervil or parsley sprigs, to garnish

Prepare the fish stock: use the ingredients listed and follow the directions for a basic fish stock. Strain.

Clean the salmon. Make the fillets and skin them. Cut the salmon into escalopes (see technique photograph): use a small knife to remove the dark flesh from the fillet's. Rinse quickly under cold running water and dry well with paper towel. Starting at the tail end and holding the knife at an angle, cut the fillets diagonally into thin escalopes about 7.5 cm (3 inches) long; set aside.

Reserve 6 whole crayfish for garnishing. Plunge the remainder into a large pan of boiling salted water. Boil for 1 minute, then drain. Twist the middle tail fins and pull sharply to remove the intestines. Remove and reserve the shells. Season the shelled tails with salt and pepper, then set aside.

Prepare the sauce: melt 30 g (1 oz) of the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the crayfish shells and shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, until the shallots are soft but not coloured. Crush the shells in the pan with a wooden pestle or mallet. Add the wine and bring to the boil. Add the strained fish stock and chopped tomato. Season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until reduced by about one-third. Strain, pressing down on the solids to extract all of the liquid; discard the solids. Return to the heat and simmer until the sauce is reduced by one-third. Mash the flour and softened butter with a fork to make a beurre manié. Bring the sauce to the boil and whisk in the beurre manié little by little until the sauce reaches the consistency of double cream. (You may not need to add all of the beurre manié.) Set the sauce aside.

Heat 30 g (1 oz) of the butter in a frying pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook quickly until all the moisture has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Trim the root ends from the spring onions. Then, starting about 2.5 cm (1 inch) from the root ends, cut through the length of the spring onions; rotate them and repeat so that the spring onions are quartered but still attached.

Heat another 45 g (1.5 oz) butter in the same pan over medium heat. Add the spring onions and cook until soft but not coloured. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat 15 ml (1 tbsp) oil in the same pan over high heat until sizzling hot. Add the shelled crayfish tails and sauté for 1-2 minutes, shaking the pan frequently, then set aside.

Prepare the whole crayfish garnish: insert the claws of the reserved whole crayfish into the base of the tails (see photograph above) and cook in boiling salted water for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Sauté the salmon: heat 30 g (1 oz) of the butter in a large frying pan over high heat. Season the salmon escalopes with salt and pepper and add half of them to the pan. Sauté for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and cover with aluminium foil to keep warm. Discard the fat in the pan. Add the remaining butter and repeat to cook the remaining escalopes.

To serve, reheat the spring onions, mushrooms and sauce, if necessary. Spoon a shallow pool of sauce onto a serving plate. Arange overlapping escalopes of salmon on the sauce. Fold the spring onions in halves and arrange around the salmon and top with crayfish tails. Scatter the mushrooms around the salmon. Garnish with the whole crayfish and small sprigs of chervil. Serve any remaining sauce in a sauceboat.

copyright (c) 1991 Le Cordon Blue