The Cooking Chronicles: Poached Salmon with White Wine Cream Sauce

I am currently reading Alisa Smith and J.B Mackinnon’s 100 Mile Diet. The novel chronicles the Vancouver-based couple over one year of eating only local products. It’s not bad so far, though my strongest criticism about halfway through is a lack of Canadian statistics – while I am certain such numbers would be more difficult to come by, one of the reasons why I was drawn to the book in the first place was in the hopes that it would supply me with a well-supported Canadian context.

At any rate, the recipe for poached salmon in white wine cream sauce intrigued me, even though some of the directions were decidedly vague. Of course, salmon within a 100-mile radius would be next to impossible to obtain, so we headed to Ocean Odyssey Inland (10027 167 Street NW, 780-930-1901), a local purveyor of wild seafood.

Ocean Odyssey has been at their west end location for about three and a half years, though they are also present at the City Centre Farmers’ Market. The storefront offers most types of fish you could think of, in addition to some shellfish (they had some of the largest lobster tails I have ever seen). I didn’t ask if all fish were obtained in this manner, but the salmon (all wild) are supplied by independent fishermen, and are flash frozen after being caught. Seafood is definitely an area where my knowledge about sustainable practices is lacking – it is something I need to learn more about.

Salmon cooler

Besides the great seafood, Ocean Odyssey also carries products from local producers, including Greens, Eggs and Ham (we had placed an order for duck eggs, which can be picked up on Friday or Saturday), Medicine Man Bison and Sunworks Organic Farm. Pat is knowledgeable about all of the products she sells as well, which definitely helps the consumer.

Mack shopping

We ended up with a package of cod cakes ($8) and two salmon filets, the latter of which were priced at about $7 each by weight, just $2 more than the fish I typically pick up at a grocery store. We pan-fried the cod cakes when we got home for a snack, but were disappointed with their soggy texture – we will likely just stick with the filets in the future.

Following the 100 Mile Diet recipe, I got to work reducing the sauce, which combined 2/3 cups of vegetable stock, 1/2 cup of white wine, 1 cup cream, and 3 tablespoons of dill. I resorted to using chicken stock, and excluded the buttermilk, but it didn’t seem to negatively alter the taste. Like most times when making sauce, I didn’t expect it to actually thicken, but I was very happy with the finished product.

As for the salmon, this was our first time poaching anything. We filled our pan with enough water to cover the filets, and set to work heating it up. Impatient, we attempted to multitask and set to preparing salads for lunch the next day, and forgot about the fish. The pot began to boil (something the recipe advised us to avoid), so we added a teaspoon of vinegar in an attempt to keep the filets together. They didn’t fall apart on us, so Shane’s trick worked.

Poached Salmon with White Wine Cream Sauce

Served with steamed broccoli and brown rice, it was a nice Sunday dinner. Mack noted that the fish seemed to have cooked through more evenly with the poaching technique than our usual roasting option. The sauce was a little on the rich side, but I liked the combination of cream and dill – the white wine was negligible.

While we’re still on the fence as to whether or not we’ll make this dish again, we both agreed that we will be back to see Pat at Ocean Odyssey.

7 thoughts on “The Cooking Chronicles: Poached Salmon with White Wine Cream Sauce

  1. Not to criticize, but for trying out the 100-mile diet, wouldn’t some fresh local pasta and a local, in season root vegetable been more appropriate? The food miles clocked with that rice and broccoli (from Mexico, or California) seems to go against what the book stands for.

    Not saying that I don’t eat those, just if you were trying a recipe for 100-mile diet and posting it here, it would have made more sense to go “all the way”

  2. Shawna – I guess I should have clarified that I wasn’t trying for a 100-mile meal. Seeing that recipe was more of an excuse to visit Ocean Odyssey. I’ve found eating locally requires some planning (forethought to visit local vendors), so the rest of my plate was just using what was in the fridge.

    Alison – thanks for the tip!

  3. If you go to OOI again, I highly recommend the black cod they sell. It’s a bit pricy (like most fish there), but it is by far the best I’ve ever had outside of some fresh stuff I had in Hawaii.

    Cook in a hot stainless steel pan with some olive oil, skin side down until crisp. I usually put it in a shallow bowl and pour over some dashi broth (a ripped it off from Feenie). Always a winner.

  4. I highly enjoyed that book, and your dish looks delish! Good on you for supporting another local independent.

    I haven’t read Good Catch, but did like Bottomfeeder by Tara Grescoe. It is indeed depressing, but certainly eye-opening.

  5. I also read The 100-mile diet earlier this year and really enjoyed it. I think they’re both good enough writers to sustain the narrative, and I wanted to stay with them the whole year to see how they did. I liked hearing the stories of how much effort you have to put in to eat local.

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