George's Sake-Pickled Salmon
with Wasabi Crème Fraîche and Herb Salad

Makes 4 Appetizer Servings

George's Sake-Pickled Salmon


Sake-Pickled Salmon
1 tablespoon pickling spices
1 tablespoon Szechwan peppercorns
4 star anise pods
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sake
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
12 ounces salmon fillets, skin
     and pin bones removed, cut into 1-inch cubes

Wasabi Crème Fraîche
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1 tablespoon wasabi powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Herb Salad
Leaves from 1/2 bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
Leaves from 1/2 bunch tarragon
1/2 bunch fresh chervil, stemmed
1 bunch fresh chives, cut into 1-inch lengths
Scallop shells and rock salt for serving (optional)
Seaweed for garnish (optional)



To make the pickled salmon: Tie the pickling spices, peppercorns, star anise, and ginger into a cheesecloth square. Put the spice sachet in a medium saucepan and add the rice vinegar, sake, sugar, and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil. Add the onion, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove and discard the sachet.

Put the salmon cubes in a small bowl. Pour the pickling liquid and onions over the salmon, making sure that it is covered by the liquid. If not, use a smaller bowl or add a little water to cover. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 10 hours. Stir gently once or twice to make sure that the fish is evenly covered with the liquid.

To make the crème fraîche: Stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

To make the salad: Toss all the herbs together in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, remove the salmon from its pickling liquid with a slotted spoon and drain on a kitchen towel. Place equal portions of salmon in each of 4 martini glasses, or alternatively, into scallop shells that are nestled into a bed of rock salt. Top with a dollop of the wasabi crème fraîche, then with some of the herb salad. Drape with a little seaweed, if using.


Fish with a firm texture and a moderate-to-high fat content are best for pickling. Try this recipe with mackerel, cod, herring, or tuna. Sour cream easily replaces crème fraîche, and any combination of herbs may be used in the salad. Arugula would also be fine.


Buy the Book!


The Farallon Cookbook
The Very Best of San Francisco Seafood Cuisine
By Mark Franz
By Lisa Weiss
By Emily Luchetti
By Paul Moore
Chronicle Books, 2001
9-3/8 x 11 in; 256 pp;
$40.00 Hardcover
ISBN 0811829197
Recipe reprinted by permission.


The Farallon Cookbook



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