Wild BC Salmon & Cauliflower Velouté with Maple Crème Fraîche & Crispy Prosciutto
My friend Annika of Social Bites asked me to host a dinner party for her event called #DinnerPartyYVR. Thirty Vancouverites volunteered to cook dinner for 4-6 random strangers who bought tickets to the event online. The charities were pre selected by the hosts and 100% of the proceeds went to the charity of the diner’s choice. I was hesitant to take on the responsibility, but was happy to support friends and The Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society which was my chosen charity.
My DinnerPartyYVR “Land & Sea” Menu
Click the course for the full recipe.
Dessert: Hosted by third parties.
My “sous chef” and recipe tester, Brenda (@mightyvanilla), helped me with my menu and also with the following write up and photos.
Follow Me Foodie’s Wild BC Salmon & Cauliflower Velouté with Maple Crème Fraîche & Crispy Prosciutto Recipe
“The most interesting part of this technique is the brining, which we use for most fish. Gerard Bertholon, of Cuisine Solutions, learned from Norwegian chefs that if you salt or brine salmon only briefly, ten minutes or so, the fish won’t release the albumin when it cooks. The brining also seasons the fish perfectly and results in a firmer texture.”
– Thomas Keller on brining salmon before cooking it sous vide
The first course of the Social Bites #DinnerPartyYVR meal used an ingredient and technique Mijune and I had tried before: salmon poached in olive oil and cooked sous vide. When hosting a dinner party, using a proven technique and ingredient makes things go a lot more smoothly!
The salmon we used was Haida Gwaii line-caught Northern Coho salmon and it had been generously provided by Organic Ocean. Sous vide salmon is also one of Mijune’s favourite ways to eat salmon next to having it sashimi. More often than not salmon is overcooked and with this method it won’t happen. With this technique it comes out custardy, buttery and incredibly tender and moist and it just melts with the touch of a fork. Even better would be to use Wild Steelhead salmon or trout for this recipe.
Since #DinnerPartyYVR took place in the fall, the salmon would be incorporated into a warm soup dish. Mijune liked the idea of making a velouté, which means velvet in French. It is normally made with stock thickened with a butter and flour roux, but we omitted the flour and just used roasted vegetables (cauliflower and parsnip) instead. Mijune isn’t keen on using flour in soups and it has nothing to do with the gluten-free thing, but she just likes to avoid it as a thickener unless required. On that note, this is a gluten-free recipe.
The cauliflower and parsnip had enough starch and substance to thicken the velouté on their own once the soup had been blended to a velvety smoothness with a VitaMix. The soup was creamy and smooth (even though it only had a small amount of cream) and roasting the vegetables added additional flavour and sweetness.
To round out the dish, we used a number of garnishes: prosciutto baked to a crisp for texture and flavour, maple crème fraîche for a little sweetness and tangy richness, crispy cauliflower florets coated in sesame seeds, and pea shoots for freshness and colour. This dish was great to cook for a dinner party not only because it was delicious and creative, but also because most of the components could be made ahead of time. Only the salmon needed to be cooked just before serving.
Wild BC Salmon & Cauliflower Velouté with Maple Crème Fraîche & Crispy Prosciutto Recipe
Serves 8 as a main course
Recipe by Mijune
Recipe written by Brenda
Maple Crème Fraîche
- ½ cup store bought crème fraîche, or homemade (ideally start this 2-3 days before serving) using:
- ½ cup whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp buttermilk
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 85g (7 Tbsp) kosher salt
- 85g (6 Tbsp) granulated sugar
- 750g warm water
- 750g ice water or ice
- (Optional) 2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs thyme, ¼ cup parsley, 4 sprigs tarragon
- 2 lbs wild salmon fillet, scaled, preferably with the skin removed, and pin bones removed
- 1 large head of cauliflower, ~500g
- 1 large parsnip, ~150g
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped, ~200g
- 4 small cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 5 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup whipping cream
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
Cauliflower & Sesame Florets
- 24 very small cauliflower florets (~1 cm each) reserved from the Velouté cauliflower head
- ½ tsp butter
- ½ tsp honey
- 2 tsp sesame seeds, black or white or a mix
- 8 slices of prosciutto
- Maple Crème Fraîche (see above)
- Cauliflower & Sesame Florets (see above)
- Crispy Prosciutto (see above)
- 1 cup of small pea shoots
Notes for success
- With the exception of cooking the salmon, all of the other components can be made up to several days ahead.
- The salmon can be brined the day before and held in the refrigerator until shortly before cooking.
- Crème fraîche can be purchased but it is also easy to make it at home with at least 1 or 2 days notice.
Maple Crème Fraîche
If making homemade crème fraîche, combine the whipping cream and buttermilk in a small bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen cloth or plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place until thickened to the consistency of yoghurt, at least overnight but up to 2 days. The longer it sits, the more it will thicken.
Once the crème fraîche is thickened to the preferred consistency, add the maple syrup. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Mix the salt and sugar with the warm water in a mixing bowl or container large enough to hold the brine and the salmon. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. If using herbs, add them now.
Add the ice water to the brine mixture.
Trim the thin ends off the salmon fillets. Reserve the trim for another use (i.e. freeze for seafood stock). Cut each fillet into 4 equal pieces, for a total of 8 serving portions.
Submerge the salmon pieces in the brine and let them sit for 10 minutes, then dry them thoroughly. Place them on a plate and refrigerate for several hours or overnight to chill completely.
Lightly coat the cold salmon pieces in olive oil. Place them in a large plastic bag and vacuum pack on medium. Return the salmon to the refrigerator.
Cut the head of cauliflower into large florets. Break off 24 tiny florets ~1cm in size and set them aside for the Cauliflower & Sesame Florets.
Peel the parsnip and cut it into 1” pieces.
Place the cauliflower, parsnip pieces and garlic cloves onto a baking tray in a single layer. Roast at 350F for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and can be easily pierced with a knife.
When the vegetables are almost done, cook the onions. Heat a large pot over medium heat and sweat the onions in the butter until they are softened. Add the chicken stock.
When the vegetables are done, add them to the pot. Blend the velouté in a Vitamix blender in batches until very smooth. Alternatively, use a stick blender.
Return the velouté to the pot and add the cream, salt and pepper. The consistency of the velouté should be similar to a cream soup. Add more chicken stock or water if the velouté is too thick. If it is too thin, simmer on medium low heat to reduce it.
Once the consistency is correct, adjust the seasoning further to taste if needed.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Place the prosciutto slices on the baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake at 325F for 15 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for an additional 12 minutes.
Check the prosciutto after the allotted baking time. They should be dry and crisp. Bake for additional time if needed, keeping a close eye on them.
Allow the prosciutto crisps to cool completely, then store them in an airtight container until ready to use.
Cauliflower & Sesame Florets
Bring a small pot of water to boil and blanch the florets for 1 minute. Drain them thoroughly.
Place the florets in a small bowl with the honey. Stir to evenly coat the florets. Add the sesame seeds and stir.
Heat the butter in a medium nonstick frying pan. Add the cauliflower florets and pan fry until the seeds are fragrant and the florets and browned and crispy. Some of the sesame seeds will fall off the florets but these can be used as an additional garnish.
Heat a water bath to 60C (140F). Remove the salmon out of the fridge while the water is coming up to temperature.
Reheat the velouté. If the velouté is to be served at the table, transfer the velouté to a pitcher or jug.
Sous vide the salmon in the water bath for 6-8 minutes for medium rare doneness. If the salmon pieces still have the skin attached, remove them now before serving.
Place the salmon in shallow serving bowls. Divide the crispy cauliflower florets and pea shoots between the bowls. Top each piece of salmon with a scoop of maple crème fraîche and a piece of crispy prosciutto. If there are extra sesame seeds left in the pan used to crisp the cauliflower florets, sprinkle them on top of the prosciutto crisps.
Pour the velouté around the salmon and serve.