Necessity, the saying goes, is the mother of invention, and that is certainly true of a lot of the recipes that I come up with on short notice around here.
The other night, for example, I came home from the market happily bearing a beautiful chunk of salmon gently smoked over alder wood by a local company, Shuckman's Fish Company & Smokery.
This stuff is good enough to eat right out of the package with your fingers, so I knew dinner was going to be fine. But about an hour before time to eat, I suddenly realized that I had no clue what I was going to do with it, and no really clear idea whether the pantry was bare.
Necessity quickly led to invention, and a quick peek in the fridge revealed everything I would need: The salmon, a few fresh free-range eggs, a mild poblano pepper and a few fingerling potatoes, and salad makings.
So what would it be? A smoked-salmon omelet came briefly to mind, but then I thought of something even more appetizing: A mound of fresh, light and creamy scrambled eggs, loaded with flaky bits of just-warmed-through smoked salmon and bits of roasted green chile pepper, served steaming over tender potatoes with a fresh summer salad on the side.
Eggs, some say, aren't wine-friendly fare; but I've never had a problem with that, and the salmon and poblanos brought the dish right up to meet a pair of wines chosen as the topic for another story, another day, comparing the affinity of smoked salmon for Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.
The dish was as easy as could be, moving from pantry to table in just over 30 minutes (and it probably would have been even quicker if I hadn't had to wait for the water to boil and the potatoes to cook).
Assuming that you'll bring your own procedures for potatoes and salad to the kitchen, here's how I fashioned the salmon and eggs:INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)
1 large poblano pepper or other fresh green chile pepper of mild to medium heat
8 ounces (240 grams) smoked salmon (a thick steak or fillet is more to my taste in this dish than thin-sliced lox, but either will work)
2 ounces butter
Large clove garlic
4 fresh eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh dill (optional)
1. First, prepare the pepper. This may be done well in advance. I cut it into several sections and roast it skin-side down over a gas burner, turning it occasionally with tongs until the entire skin surface is charred black. Pop the pieces into a small paper bag, close the top, and leave it to steam for 5 to 10 minutes. After this treatment, the blackened, shiny skin should peel off easily, leaving tender roasted pepper meat. Cut this into 1/4-inch squares, put in a bowl and set aside. If you're preparing it in advance, you might toss them in a scant amount of olive oil to keep them from drying out.
2. Flake the salmon into bite-size chunks and set aside.
3. Break the eggs into a bowl, add salt and pepper and, if you wish, a tablespoon of water, milk or cream - the liquid will make the finished dish a bit lighter, and in the case of the dairy products, add richness - and whisk thoroughly until the eggs are frothy and light. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Put an iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and melt HALF of the butter, reserving the rest. Put in the garlic and stir until it's aromatic, but don't let the butter brown. Reduce heat to low and stir in the eggs.
Now, here's the secret to tender and creamy scrambled eggs: In contrast with omelets, which call for high heat and quick cooking, you want to scramble eggs as gently and slowly as you can, stirring constantly with a small whisk or wooden spoon as they gradually solidify. When the eggs are about half done, stir in the reserved roasted green peppers. When they are nearly done, add the salmon, stirring gently so it doesn't break up too much, and cooking only long enough to warm it through. When the dish is nearly done, pick out the garlic and stir in the rest of the butter and the optional chopped fresh dill.
The entire procedure may take from three to five minutes, and you want to watch with care, as the eggs should come off the heat while they're still on the soft side. They will continue to cook in their own heat after you take them off the fire.
Taste for seasoning, and serve on warm plates with the potatoes, and salad on the side.
MATCHING WINE: I'll have more to report on this in a future Wine Advisor edition, but let the record reflect that both the salmon and the buttery eggs worked well with both the red and the white: Rex Hill Willamette Valley (Oregon) 1999 Pinot Noir and 1999 Pinot Gris.
WEB LINK: Shuckman's Fish Company & Smokery, the Louisville company that's made me a believer in the quality of their smoked fish, has a Website at
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Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.
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