Why not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a touch of the Irish, as in this cream sauce made with Bailey’s. The cabbage slaw with malt vinegar is a refreshing change from the limpid cabbage often served on this holiday, and the pistachio crust gives a nice touch of green to the pink and flaky salmon.
For the cabbage:
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
4 cups green cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 zucchini, grated
2 teaspoons malt vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the salmon:
4 salmon fillets, 6-8 ounces each
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
½ cup shelled raw pistachios
¼ cup toasted bread crumbs
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon shallot, peeled and finely diced
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
4 thyme sprigs, for garnish
To prepare the cabbage:
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Set a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, and once heated, add 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil shimmers, add the shredded cabbage. Cook until the cabbage begins to soften, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the grated carrots and zucchini, and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the entire mixture is soft. Stir in the malt vinegar and season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from heat and place in the oven.
Prepare the salmon:
Toast the pistachios in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant and lightly toasted. Be careful not to burn them, as nuts have a high oil content, and can go from toasted to burnt really quickly. Grind the pistachios to a medium fine texture by pulsing gently in a food processor. Be careful not to overprocess, as the nuts will begin to turn into a paste. Mix with the bread crumbs.
Coat the top of each salmon fillet with mustard and press into the pistachio and bread crumb mixture to coat. Heat a large skillet over high heat, and add the remaining olive oil. Sear the salmon fillets, pistachio side down, over medium-high heat, until a crust has formed, about 2-3 minutes. Gently turn the fillets over and sear on the second side for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the fillets from the pan, place them in an oven safe dish, and bake in the oven with the cabbage slaw for 20 minutes.
[Chef’s Note: You may want to use a special fish turner to gently turn the fish. When turning, be careful not to lose any of the crust. The cooking times are approximate to a 1-inch thick piece of salmon. The fish should be opaque, yet still a little pink in the center. The fish will continue to cook a bit after you remove it from the oven. For a thinner piece of fish, cook for less time.]
Make the sauce:
Wipe the skillet with a paper towel, then melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, and sauté them lightly. When shallots are translucent and fragrant, add the heavy cream and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Reduce until the sauce thickens. Whisk the remaining teaspoon mustard into the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
[Chef’s Note: This sauce should remain light and relatively thin, to be drizzled around the dish. If you prefer a thicker sauce, cook it longer to further reduce the cream.]
Place a generous serving of cabbage slaw in the center of each serving plate. For a pretty presentation, use a ring mold or a dry measuring cupTop with the salmon fillet, pistachio-crusted side up, and spoon the sauce around the outside of the slaw. Garnish each plate with a sprig of thyme.
Recipe and photo by Mark Tafoya