3.02.2019

Toxic Butter Shock

We were having four overnight guests in our little cape house in Maine, and I wanted to make them something special which I had previously created for Mark one day when I was home sick.

Our small, wonderful home in Kittery, Maine.
Mark loves to tell the story. It is a bit embarrassing when he does it at the dinner table... “David was home sick and exhausted one day and, in the late afternoon, rummaged through the refrigerator... and ended up creating this magnificent Salmon Wellington. I thought to myself, 'If this is what he does when he is low-energy, I can’t wait to see what he invents when he is well-rested!'”

As we lived on the coast, it wasn’t unusual to have bits and pieces of fish flash frozen in our freezer. I found a couple of scallops, a quarter pound shrimp, and one lone sole fillet. And a box of puff pastry.

The recipe needed an anchor. I had Mark pick up some salmon fillet on his way home from the office. My innovation worked, and I knew I’d want to repeat it.

The version I made for our friends that night was a veritable force of nature. To say it was rich was an understatement. To give you some perspective: Bill Gates is rich, this dish went waaaaay beyond that.

After dinner, at some point in the wee hours, we realized we could hear all our guests pacing around their rooms and the upstairs hall. The next morning we all shared that the richness of the dish had us all awake much of the night, with energy to burn. The syndrome was immediately dubbed, “Toxic Butter Shock.”

I have lightened the original recipe quite a bit by reducing the amount of salmon, using smaller pieces of puff pastry, and less cream. The dish didn’t suffer from the reductions, and neither have we! Now we can dine on it and sleep through the night.

This meal comes together quite easily and can be catered to your and your guests’ palates. Allergic to bivalves? Leave out the scallops and add another sole fillet. Don’t like tarragon? Use thyme, or cilantro. Cream sauce too much for you? Try a Beurre Blanc. (The opposite of Julia Child’s advice, “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”) Just be creative!

We served this with an exquisite Condrieu (Viognier) from the Northern Rhône region - you can read about the pairing on the Provence WineZine.

~ David

Salmon Wellington

1 pound salmon fillet, skin and bones removed
1 Dover sole fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 sea scallops
1/4 pound raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
zest of 1 lime (reserve lime for juice below)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, plus additional
1 sheet all-butter puff pastry, thawed
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, minced
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water


Cut salmon into 4 equal-sized rectangular portions (do not make long, skinny pieces); set aside. Combine sole, scallops, and shrimp in the food processor and pulse 5 times. Add yolks, cream, lime zest, and tarragon; purée to a smooth, thick paste but don’t over-process.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out puff pastry sheet to a 10-inch by 18-inch rectangle and divide into four 5-inch by 9-inch pieces. Trim corners to create an elongated octagon. Divide the puréed sole/shrimp mixture among the pastry sheets placing in the center of the pastry... think of it as a pillow for the salmon. Top each with a piece of salmon, skinned side up. Fold the sides and ends over the fish, seal the corners by pinching them, and turn over onto a baking sheet. Brush tops with the egg wash and bake for 20 minutes.

While salmon is cooking, sauté the shallot in the butter until clear. Add wine and lime juice, reducing to 3 tablespoons. Add cream, season with salt and pepper, and reduce slightly. Strain cream sauce into a clean bowl and dived among four heated dinner plates. Top with salmon, garnish with additional chopped tarragon, and serve immediately.

Serves 4.


33 comments:

  1. Wow, this sounds sumptuous. Rich, yes, but in a good way. And actually, I'm liking of the sound of the original "butter shock" version of this dish. After all, it's Mardis Gras. And I'm a firm believer in moderation in all things, including moderation. ;-)

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    1. Frank - that is perfect - moderation in moderation! It’s like my other adages, more is more, and more is better! Hope you try this!

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  2. I am also impressed with this dish David, it’s gorgeous. I have never worked with puff pastry but this dish might change that.

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    1. Definitely look for all butter puff pastry! Trader Joe carries it at the holidays but DuFour makes the best!

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  3. Dear David, Wellington-style is always delicious and this creation of yours looks wonderful AND I love the story behind this dish!
    What a fun post - thank you for sharing a great recipe and a grand story.
    Liebe Gruesse und bis bald,
    Andrea

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    1. Thanks, Andrea - I think it’s time to resurrect my Bork tenderloin Wellington, as well!

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  4. All I can say is 'oh' :) ! Beef Wellington having been one of 'my' dinner party offerings for decades I am cross my imagination failed to think of this sumptuous change from meat to fish, especially since I have lived next to the coast most of my life. Sins: am not looking at the moment tho' the 'other side' of me I daresay will make a few changes when I come to try this on my friends . . . Love the local Viogniers I can access in my liquor stores . . .

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    1. Making a recipe our own is what it’s all about Eha! Can’t wait to hear what you do with it!

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  5. I've made something similar. My version had some diced veggies, so yours is definitely more rich. I did this on the blog a long time a go. Don't judge my crude blogging skills at the time! GREG

    https://www.sippitysup.com/creating-salmon-loaf-en-cro%25c3%25bbte/

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    1. It was s ago, Greg - look what we have (both) learned since then! I definitely want to try your version.

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  6. Could there be such a thing? I think I would accept the challenge, David! haha! Looks absolutely divine, especially with the wine pairing! :)

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    1. I have actually had people request it a second time... so the syndrome couldn’t be that bad! Thanks, Christina!

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  7. Thank you for the journey through the versions : it is helpful to know the options ; honestly, I don't mind a butter shock and staying awake all night if this dish is the reason :-)

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    1. I love the way you think, Davorka! I feel the same way!

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  8. In this case, you can judge a book by its cover....Having had the pleasure of eating this dish, I can attest that it is a beautifully crafted rectangle box filled with exquisite seafood in a perfectly seasoned cream sauce. Wonderful. And the Condrieu wine he paired it with was a marriage made in heaven.

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    1. I am only sad, Susan, that Condrieu is not easy to source here in Tucson!

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  9. David, you've done it again. What a great dish and one I'm excited to try very soon. Also, one my guests will enjoy as Toxic Butter Shock is a culinary norm in dishes here.

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    1. Are you trying to get me to move to Sweden, Ron? Remember, Butter is one of the five major food groups (in my estimation).

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  10. David, I think I would risk the toxic butter shock! Such and elegant dish. It must taste heavenly!

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    1. Most people take much greater risks every day - called "fast food!" Like you, I think this is worth the risk, Kelly!

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  11. David, this sounds great! And it's such a beautiful, fun and different presentation for guests. Who knew such good food could come out of a "sick day." :-) And your cape house in Maine is darling. Love it!

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    1. Valentina - I think I am most creative on my sick days... boredom can be my best kitchen utensil!

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  12. Oh, I can just picture this recipe with puff pastry made from scratch- making this recipe 'Über butter'! How lucky to have a house in Maine! Your salmon recipe goes perfectly with your Maine home!

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    1. Thanks, Fran - it IS really good with homemade puff pastry! We left that little home in Maine 14 years ago for a new life in the Southwest - all turned out quite well for us! :)

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  13. I know all about toxic butter shock! Well, that's not what I call it, but I sure do know the feeling. :-) This is a terrific dish -- really nice combo of seafood, and who doesn't like a little puffed pastry package to tuck into?

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    1. John - wouldn't it be great if steamed veggies tasted as good as a buttery, creamy dish like this?

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  14. David, my body is so used to vast quantities of butter that I would've slept like a baby after that first version! But I think this one is even better. I mean, even Julia would agree, I'm sure, that there really might be such a thing as too much butter and cream! And this is sooo pretty.

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    1. Thank you, Jean! Yes, I think there was plenty of butter and cream in this version! :)

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  15. I'm with Jean, as something tells me that my constitution would cope pretty well with your original version of this Wellington!

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    1. Thanks, John - it never bothered me, either. I guess I just have a lot of friends with weak constitutions!

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  16. This looks absolutely delicious. I do love salmon. And that photo of your house is so pretty. Well i mean the house is pretty:). Cheers sherry

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    1. Thanks, Sherry! We miss that old house in Maine sometimes, but we love being in the desert!

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  17. This is amazing David! My mother used to make Beef Wellington but this looks even better. Love the individual servings too. Laughed at the indigestion. I have done that to guests once or twice :)

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