Perhaps I'm drawn by the vivid color, a deeply hued red with the slightest aura of brilliant coral, or the tender, almost melt-in-your-mouth meatiness, or, maybe, the way it pairs perfectly with all of my summertime favorites--fresh corn, tomatoes, and tarragon, all plucked from the garden while nearby, the grill heats up.
Sockeye Salmon are much smaller than King, or Chinook Salmon, averaging only around 6 pounds and while the latter seem to always be in season, Sockeye season is brief, running from June to July, perfectly timed to take advantage of a few of my favorite seasonal eats. If I lived closer to where they were harvested, I'd more than likely live the entire duration of the Sockeye season stuffing myself into a euphoric intoxication, but since I don't, I'm happy to eat it as often as possible.
While it's incredible simply grilled and finished with a squeeze of lemon and sea salt, I love the way it pairs with the sweetness of roasted and caramelized cherry tomatoes, slightly browned butter, and the unmistakable notes of anise in the fresh tarragon. This dish is best enjoyed al fresco with a glass of Chardonnay.
Grilled Sockeye Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes and Tarragon Butter
1 pound piece of center cut Sockeye Salmon, small bones removed (use tweezers), cut in two
1 dry pint freshly picked cherry tomatoes--feel free to mix colors and varieties
1 large handful of fresh tarragon, stems removed, leaves finely chopped
4 tablespoons of butter, preferably from pasture-raised cows
1/4 of a fresh orange
salt and pepper
1. Drizzle the salmon fillet with olive oil and rub it in to fully distribute the oil; salt and pepper the salmon and set aside while the grill heats.
2. Scatter the cherry tomatoes onto a small cookie sheet or pizza pan lightly sprayed with nonstick spray and put into a 325 degree toaster oven; roast, turning occasionally, until collapsed and caramelized; remove from the oven and generously sprinkle with sea salt.
3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and heat until just beginning to brown; lower the heat and add the tarragon.
4. Squeeze the orange, adding the juice to the butter and tarragon, then add the tomatoes.
5. Add salt and pepper to the butter and tomato mixture to taste and remove from the heat.
6. Once the salmon is grilled, assemble the plates by topping each fillet of salmon with the tomatoes and butter; garnish with a sprig of fresh tarragon.
7. Serve with fresh corn cut from the cobb and slightly sauteed, a glass of Chardonnay, and an outside, poolside view.