Eric Akis: Wild salmon, berries right combination for summer

Eric Akis

When I think about B.C. foods and summer, wild salmon and berries always come to mind. Both are available fresh at this time of year and a flavourful fact is that you can deliciously serve them together.

That’s what I did in one of today’s recipes. To make it, salmon fillets are seared, plated and topped with a shimmering, sweet- and sour-tasting sauce strewn with summer berries, which could be either fresh tayberries or raspberries.

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Everyone knows what rasp-berries are, but when I was buying tayberries recently several folks asked me, including the cashier at the till, what they were and what they tasted like.

If you too are unsure what a tayberry is, let me inform you that they are a cross between a red raspberry and a blackberry. They were first cultivated in Scotland and were named after the River Tay, Scotland’s longest river.

According to information on specialtyproduce.com, tayberries have are dark magenta or maroon colour when ripe and offer sweet-tart raspberry notes balanced by the rich lusciousness of a blackberry. They are lovely to eat on their own and can also be used in recipes, both savoury and sweet, such as salads, sauces, shortcake, crepes and jam.

Tayberries are not widely commercially grown like raspberries are. But at this time of year you’ll find them for sale at some independent grocery stores, farm markets and farm stands.

As already noted, if you can’t find them, you can also use raspberries in the sauce. Either way, you’ll end up with a tasty summer salmon dish that serves two.

The sauce for the salmon also calls for tayberry or raspberry vinegar, which you can make yourself using today’s second recipe.

If you make it, the process involves steeping the berries in vinegar 24 hours; so keep that in mind when planning to serve the salmon.

Seared Salmon Fillets with Sweet and Sour Berry Sauce

This B.C. salmon for two is seared, plated and topped with a beguiling sauce that can be made with local tayberries or raspberries. Serve the fish with rice or nugget potatoes and a green vegetable.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: About 10 minutes
Makes: two servings

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp raspberry jam

1 Tbsp tayberry or raspberry vinegar (see recipe below and Eric’s options)

1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 tsp soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp lime juice

1 tsp honey

2 Tbsp water

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2/3 cup fresh tayberries or raspberries, any stems removed (see Note)

1/2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon, or pinch dried

2 (140- to 170-gram) sockeye or other wild salmon fillets

1 Tbsp olive oil

Place jam, vinegar, ginger, juice, honey and water in a small pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook and stir until the jam is melted and incorporated with the other ingredients, about one minute.

Strain sauce through a fine sieve into a second pot, pushing on the sauce with the back of ladle to ensure all the liquid goes through the sieve. Season sauce with salt and pepper, and then stir in the tayberries (or raspberries) and tarragon. Set sauce aside until needed below.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Place the oil in a non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the salmon and cook about three minutes per side, or until nicely seared and just cooked through.

When salmon is almost cooked, set the sauce back over medium heat and return to a simmer. When salmon is cooked, plate it, top with sauce and serve.

Note: Tayberries are sold at some independent grocery stores, farm markets and farm stands. I bought them at The Old Farm Market in Oak Bay (theoldfarmmarket.ca).

Eric’s options: If you don’t want to make your own for vinegar for the sauce, you’ll find raspberry vinegar for sale at many grocery stores. Instead of searing the salmon, bake it. To do so, set the fillets, skin-side-down, in a parchment paper-lined baking pan. Drizzle fish with the oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake salmon in 400 F oven 15 minutes, or until cooked. Plate the fish and top with the sauce.

Tayberry (or Raspberry) Honey Vinegar

Aromatic, ruby-red vinegar is flavoured with summer berries and a touch of honey. Use it in sauces, such as the one above for the salmon, and in salad dressings.

Preparation time: five minutes, plus 24 hours of steeping
Cooking time: a few minutes
Makes: about 3/4 cup

3/4 cup fresh tayberries or fresh raspberries, any stems removed

1 cup white wine or cider vinegar

1 Tbsp honey

Place tayberries (or raspberries) in a two-cup, glass measuring cup or in a similar sized glass or other non-reactive bowl. Lightly crush the berries with the back of a fork.

Place vinegar and honey in a small non-reactive (non-aluminum) pot, bring to a simmer over medium heat, and then pour over the berries. Cool mixture to room temperature.

Cover the berries and steep in the vinegar 24 hours. Strain mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve or paper coffee filter into a sterilized, tight-sealing jar or bottle. Vinegar will keep many weeks if stored in the refrigerator.

Eric Akis is the author of the hardcover book Everyone Can Cook Everything. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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