One of the things I enjoy in the kitchen is taking the concept of one dish and morphing it so it becomes entirely different. It’s a great way to get mileage out of a flavor combo I know and love.
So when the people at Alaska Seafood asked if I’d be willing to come up with a new appetizer to be served at this year’s Foodbuzz Festival based on the Grilled Salmon with Fig and Caramelized Onion Sauce I made last summer the answer was an easy yes.
If you’re attending this year you’ll be able to taste my bite as well as what I am sure will be a fantastic one from Teri of A Foodie Stays Fit.
Armed with a box of complimentary seafood varieties to play around with (I received Coho, Black Cod, Cod, and Halibut), my mind was buzzing with ideas. But one kept rising to the top. I really wanted to create a two-bite version of Salmon en Croute. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s basically salmon wrapped in puff pastry. I’d made a healthy version of Salmon en Croute a couple of years back based on a Canyon Ranch recipe and loved that the salmon inside was unbelievably moist, not to mention well complimented by the buttery crust. Since we were tasked with creative a holiday appetizer it also seemed perfect since puff pastry, in my opinion, adds that extra something special the holidays demand. It also has the more indulgent, comfort food feel that I associate in the winter months.
For my version, I spread puff pastry with a fig mustard and top with caramelized onions.
Then I place the salmon on top, before folding it up into a perfect parcel. The result is an appetizer that is as filling as it is elegant. It’s also great if you have a fear of overcooking the fish because it kind of steams inside the pastry and cooks perfectly. I also really enjoyed the Coho salmon in this. I found it a bit milder than the Sockeye I used last summer, yet it was still flavorful enough to stand up to the onions and figs. All in all, with its buttery pastry, ultra fresh tasting fish, and sweet and tangy mustard it is one of those appetizers that’s hard not to love. As part of my test run I brought a batch to my cooking club, The Cooking Chicks‘ fall food fest dinner and didn’t come home with a single crumb. However, my recipe testing isn’t over yet. I have a few other ideas up my sleeve and of course welcome any fun suggestions about how I might transform my original dish into a tasty and unique bite.
Adapted from this recipe
Yields 20 bites
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-2 cups sliced sweet onion
-Salt and pepper to taste
-4 dried mission figs
-2 cups boiling water
-1/4 cup dijon mustard
-1 tablespoon honey
-1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
-1 package 17.3 ounce package puff pastry sheets, thawed according to package directions
-1 pound salmon fillets (look for pieces that are as even in thickness as possible), patted dry and cut into 20 equal-sized pieces
-1 egg, lightly beaten
Swirl olive oil in bottom of medium nonstick skillet. Add onions and sprinkle in salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 10 minutes.
Remove cover and cook, stirring often, until onions are caramel in color, 30 minutes to an hour.
While onions are cooking, rehydrate the figs for the fig mustard by placing them in the boiling water for twenty minutes. Figs should become soft. Remove them from the water and coarsely chop. Add to a small food processor along with the mustard, honey, and cayenne pepper and process until as smooth as possible. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Unfold the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheets into 2 (14-inch) squares. Cut each square into 10 rectangles (making them as even as you can) for 20 pieces in all.
Spoon the mustard evenly on to the middle of each square (you will not need much, it is pretty flavorful and a little goes a long way). Divide the caramelized onion mixture among the pastry squares. Top each with 1 piece of salmon. Fold the sides over as if you are wrapping a package, pinching tightly to seal.
Place the parcel seam-side down on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining pastry squares. Brush the tops of each with the beaten egg and cut 3 small slits in the top of each parcel to allow the steam to vent.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the outside pastry is lightly golden. Serve immediately.
I’d also love your thoughts. Any other suggestion about how to turn fish, caramelized onions, and figs into a fantastic wintery appetizer?