Wild Salmon Mediterraneo in Phyllo
We all do a little arm chair traveling don’t we? Whether on television, videos, or magazines and books we traverse the world soaking up the experiences and sites vicariously until that day — you know — that someday when we can live it all for ourselves. Such was my mental trip to Greece. While the sights and the sea are enticing enough, the food entices to go deeper into the hearts and cultures of everyday familial eating.
The catalyst for this journey was a beautiful cookbook received at Christmas, The Country Cooking of Greece by Diane Kochilas with glorious photos by Vassilis Stenos. Imagine this large tabletop tome of 384 pages perched wide open covering my lap as I flipped through the nineteen sections of ranging from salads, beans, vegetables, seafood and the Greek Sweet Tooth. Each with historical, everyday descriptions of each village, seaport where the dish originated. As pages turned, reading recipes at random you could hear me muttering ooh and ahh to myself as I imaged the flavors play upon my lips, the aromas dancing in my head. This is why printed cookbooks are still relevant, the immersive, tactile experience without the distraction of hyperlinks, video, advertising and polling to distract.
As summer approached, the convergence of my community sourced produce and fish deliveries provided inspiration and resources for this meal. The produce box full with squash, eggplant and tomatoes lead me to find the recipe for Smothered Summer Vegetables from Ikaria (Ikarian Soufico.) A layered confit of onions, garlic, bell pepper, eggplant, potatoes and squash with a grated tomato topping. Each layer cooked separately and in order in olive oil before being placed in the large side pot or dutch oven for the final thirty minutes of mingling the caramelized, succulent flavors. A cousin to ratatouille perhaps, but the retention of the layers upon serving and the fruity olive oil give this it’s own texture and you slice and serve. This makes a great side dish for a crowd and Diane recommends serving with a slice of feta on the side, providing a creamy tang to compliment the harmony of the soufico (from the Italian, soufocare, to smother.) The dish reminds me a bit of a Spanish Tortilla, with potatoes and olive oil — only more!
Next up, my local fishing guys, giddy within the throws of open Salmon season provided the beautiful Chinook fillets, 6-8 ounces each, pinky coral, firm. Fresh Salmon in of itself is an elegant fish and more often or not I think of it as something special and admonish myself to not waste it by doing something ordinary. I don’t know why I think that way, because grilled or baked it turns out just fine, but that thought certainly was evident when I pulled out the phyllo dough, prosciutto and soufico and went to town.
This is one hefty packet of goodness. I could only eat a half with my salad, though my darling was able to finish his. I paired this with a Sauvignon Blanc not having any Greek wine in the house to accompany this meal. Maybe next time. (Tasted several delicious vintages at IACP SF!)
- 2 6-8 oz. 1 ½” thick Salmon fillets, skin removed
- 1 cup stewed vegetables*
- 2 sweet Gherkin (sweet pickles), diced
- 2 slices Prosciutto, wafer thin
- ¼ cup melted butter
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mixed herbs (parsley, oregano, sweet marjoram)
- 1 roll Phyllo Dough (20-24 sheets)
- Saute a combination of chopped summer vegetables: onion, bell pepper, eggplant, and tomatoes in olive oil and garlic until just soft and fork tender and liquid reduced. Should not be soupy. Add in diced sweet pickle and cool to room temperature.
- Thaw one package of phyllo dough. When room temperature unroll, cover with wax paper and a slightly damp towel until ready to make packets to prevent sheets from drying out. (See link to tips below.)
- Melt butter in small saucepan (or microwave in small bowl)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Wrap each fillet in prosciutto.
- Layer two sheets of phyllo dough on clean flat surface, brush with melted butter between layers.
- Place ½ cup of stewed vegetables on lower third of the sheet, centered with equal space on each side and about 5” from bottom edge.
- Layer two more sheets of dough over the vegetables, again brushing with butter and then place the salmon on top.
- Top salmon with two more sheets, then begin forming the packet by folding bottom edge of dough over the salmon and rolling it up to the top. Tuck in the sides and the finish should have the seam and side edges on the bottom.
- Brush the top of the packet with butter and bake for 35 minutes at 400 degrees. Rotate in oven halfway through and brush on a bit more butter and sprinkle each packet with herbs. Bake until the packet is golden brown.
The Country Cooking of Greece, by Diane Kochilas called Smothered Summer Vegetables from Ikaria (Ikarian Soufico). See: http://dianekochilas.com/
Beautiful organic Greek Olive Oil from the Isle of Crete imported by Arianna Trading Company available at New Leaf Markets in Santa Cruz County.
Local Catch Monterey Bay, a community supported fishery.