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Thursday, 09 March 2017 14:28

Salmon will satisfy the Irish in you

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When shopping for salmon, a deep color may indicate wild caught salmon versus farm-raised, but different varieties have different coloring. Sockeye is deep red, while Coho is pale pink. Fresh salmon is nice, but flash frozen is fine, too. The biggest mistake is overcooking fish, so be wary of that. When shopping for salmon, a deep color may indicate wild caught salmon versus farm-raised, but different varieties have different coloring. Sockeye is deep red, while Coho is pale pink. Fresh salmon is nice, but flash frozen is fine, too. The biggest mistake is overcooking fish, so be wary of that. File photo
St. Patrick’s Day is March 17, so prepare to don green and be kissed.

The day is celebrated in honor of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland who spent more than 30 years converting Irish pagans to the Christian faith.

The custom of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day came to America in 1737. That was the first year it publicly was celebrated in this country, in Boston, which had a large Irish population.

Today, people celebrate the day with parades, wearing green and drinking beer — sometimes green beer. One reason St. Patrick’s Day might have become so popular is that it takes place just a few days before the first day of spring. One might say it has become the first green of spring.

If you want to be lucky on St. Patrick’s Day, follow this advice: Find a four-leaf clover and wear green so you don’t get pinched.

Irish proverbs are freely bandied about on St. Patrick’s Day, including these:

“It is not a secret if it is known by three people.”

“A drink precedes a good story.”

“The older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune.”

The truth is, Ireland has produced more than its share of artistic souls, many of them known to be melancholy — putting it nicely — or downright tormented.

There are four Nobel Prize winners in literature from Ireland: George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney and W.B. Yeats. Famous Irish writers include Francis Bacon, Jonathon Swift, James Joyce, Bram Stoker and Elizabeth Bowen, to name a few.

So, with all these great artists from Ireland, what about the food? Well, it’s not so hot, at least not in the general sense of the general public knowing great Irish chefs.

I can say, however, that Irish chef Noel Cullen was pretty fantastic. His “Elegant Irish Cooking” dispels the myth that Irish cooking is all about potatoes, cabbage and corn beef. Recipes make use of indigenous ingredients, including a good amount of seafood.

Salmon with sorrel

— From “Elegant Irish Cooking” by Noel Cullen

Serves 4

4 salmon fillets, 4-6 oz. each, boneless and skinless

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice of 1 whole lemon

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

4 Tbsps. butter, divided

2 Granny Smith apples, diced

1 bunch scallions, chopped

1 small bunch sorrel, shredded (about 8 leaves)

1 tsp. chopped parsley

1 lemon sliced, for garnish

Dry salmon on paper towels and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Add one tablespoon of vegetable oil and one to two tablespoons of butter to a large skillet and heat over medium/high heat. Place the salmon fillets (presentation side down) on the hot skillet. Fry until golden brown, turning at least twice.

In a separate saucepan, gently cook over medium heat in the remaining butter the diced apples and scallions about two minutes. Divide among four plates. Place cooked fillets on top and serve.

Use stainless steel when working with sorrel because it is high in acid and will discolor if prepared in an aluminum pan.

Porter cake

— From “A Little Irish Cookbook” from Appletree Press. This is similar to Irish soda bread with a bigger emphasis on the dried fruit.

1 cup porter beer

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

6 cups mixed dried fruit

4 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Grated rind from one small lemon (optional)

3 eggs

Melt the butter and sugar in the porter in a saucepan. Add the fruit and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to go cold and add the sieved flour, baking soda, spices and lemon rind. Beat the eggs and mix in with a wooden spoon. Pour into a greased and lined 9-inch cake pan and bake on the middle shelf of a preheated 325 F oven for 1 3/4 hours. To test the cake, push a skewer into the center; if ready, the skewer will come out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan.

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