Poached Salmon with Sauce Vert
Courtesy of Cathy Morrell
On Monday night I had dinner chez mes parents and my mother served poached wild salmon with sauce vert and couscous with cherry tomatoes and zucchini. Just a typical Monday night at the Morrell apartment, where my parents have lived since before they were married. A meal such as this is usually conceived of when my father sees an obscure film on television in which a character dines on something typical to another era or Daddy reads a reference to a food that he hasn’t been offered in years and he says, “Hey Cath, how come you never make poached salmon anymore?” or “How’d you like to make poached salmon for dinner one night this week?” Sometimes there is no correlation between what my father is watching or reading and his food requests. He’ll be driving up the Taconic from the city and say, “I think it’s time for spare ribs,” which means he thinks it’s time for my mother to make spare ribs for him.
My father’s food requests tend to work out well for everyone: my dad gets what he has a hankering for, and my mother is spurred to find a recipe and adapt it as her own—a challenge that leads to an exercise that generates fulfillment, in every sense of the word, for everyone who is lucky enough to partake.
It’s become one of many rituals in my parents’ relationship, many of which pertain to food and wine, of course. My father asks my mother numerous times while she’s cooking when dinner is going to be ready, loiters in the kitchen to see what’s on the stove and to make a cocktail, generally getting in the way, and my mother replies in a dulcet yet highly audible tone, “Peter, it will be ready by the time you open the wine.”—which is my father’s cue to figure out what wine to pair with my mother’s meal, and which also means “stop haranguing me if you haven’t even kept up your half of the bargain!”
On Monday, my father selected a 2007 Mersault Le Limozin Nicolas Potel which was medium bodied and minerally. It beautifully complemented the salmon, which my mother (thankfully) under-poached. Poached salmon has a tendency to sit in my stomach, but when it is still rare in the center, I find it much more digestible and certainly more palatable. Mamma’s green sauce was spinach-based, with the perfect tang and creaminess. The saffron couscous, with briefly steamed zucchini and raw cherry tomatoes—ingredients that were lying around the fridge—rounded out the dish.
Mamma followed the recipe from the Dione Lucas Book of French Cooking, which was her “bible” in the early years when she was dating my father and teaching herself to cook.