On the same day that I found the aillet (garlic shoots!) and shallot shoots at the market, I happened to notice that my favourite fish stall had a longer line than usual. I was waiting for a friend to finish her purchases and wandered over to the fish, wondering what prompted the long line. Sadly for my friend (who ended up having to wait for me some 20 minutes as a result) I saw the reason for the excitement: wild salmon and wild tuna were on offer.
I haven't posted a salmon or tuna recipe in a long time because I decided some months ago that I really couldn't support farmed fishing as it's carried out these days. All the evidence shows that it's bad for the environment and not terribly good for consumption. It is good for the economy in countries suffering from failing fish stocks, but that is about it. So I asked at this same fish stall about wild alternatives and was told with a superior laugh "We don't sell it. It is beyond expensive." (The expressive French phrase "hors du prix"...) And when I started looking carefully at the labels in supermarkets and fish shops I quickly realised that farmed fish is ubiquitous in France when it comes to salmon and tuna.
Ironically, this is the same stall that was selling the stuff last week. I'm not one to hold a grudge, though. I lined up with the other patrons and anxiously counted the people in front of me to calculate what would be left by the time I arrived at the front of the queue. As it turns out, I had the last slice of tuna and there was plenty of salmon. And the price? More expensive than the usual fish but by no means beyond my budget: five portions of fish came to just under 30 euros. And to be honest, you really could taste the difference. The wild fish had so much more flavour to it that I'm more than happy to eat it less frequently and enjoy it more!
And with 20 minutes of waiting in line, I had plenty of time to contemplate what to do with my fish once I had bought it.
The first idea I had was for the salmon steaks. With garlic shoots, young leeks and tender spinach in my trolley already (and a constant supply of ginger at home: I rarely run out because I love it so much) I decided to go with an Asian slant.
Wild Salmon with garlic shoots and leeks on a bed of wilted baby spinach
3 salmon steaks (I used darnes de saumon, which are sliced through the spine of the fish with the bone left in place)
2 large handfuls of tender fresh spinach
3 garlic shoots
2 young leeks
2-3 Tbs light soy sauce
1 cube of ginger about 1"/2.5 cm, peeled and minced
1 Tbs sunflower or vegetable oil
Clean the garlic shoots and leeks. Slice off the root ends and the green tops and then slice in thin roundels. Heat the oil in a large frying pan with high sides and add the garlic shoots and leek. Cook until soft, but not browned. With a slotted spoon, remove them from the pan to a bowl. Wash the spinach and spin or shake it dry. Add it to the pan and cover; allow it to cook on a medium/low heat for 4-5 minutes, or until just barely wilted. Add the leeks and garlic shoots back to the pan along with the soy sauce and toss until the spinach is dressed. Remove all to a warm plate and cover with the frying pan lid to keep warm.
Rinse the salmon steaks, pat them dry and add them to the frying pan. (You may want to add a little more oil if there is not enough left to coat the bottom of the pan.) Turn up the heat and quickly brown on each side - about five minutes for the first and three for the second, depending on the thickness of your steaks.
Divide the spinach between three plates and place the salmon steaks on top. Use the soy sauce and garlic/leeks mixture left on the warm plate to dress the tops of the steaks. If they have all come away with the spinach bed, you can simply drizzle a small amount of soy sauce over each steak.
For the tuna steaks, I decided on a more Mediterranean flavour. Although tomatoes are distinctly out of season at the moment, I splurged on some juicy deep red cherry tomatoes for the sauce. Yes, they probably were grown in a hothouse (in France, at least!) at some cost to the environment. But I'm not a green freak: I just like to make my departures from green living a conscious splurge. And at the very end of a long season of root vegetables (also known as Winter) I need to splurge on some bright vitamin-filled vegetables occasionally. With fresh young garlic, sharp shallot shoots and salty anchovies, it sang with flavour and complemented the wild tuna perfectly.
Tuna with tomato, garlic and anchovy salsa
2 thin boneless tuna steaks
20 small very ripe cherry tomatoes
10 anchovy filets, rinsed and chopped, reserving a few whole filets for garnishing
4-5 garlic shoots, cleaned, topped and tipped and sliced in thin rounds
4-5 shallot shoots, cleaned, topped and tipped and sliced in thin rounds
2-3 Tbs olive oil
In a frying pan, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan (barely) and add the rinsed and dried tuna steaks. Cook to your preference: because I'm pregnant (and because the critic likes his sushi raw and his cooked fish cooked) I left them until they were just barely rosy in the center. Remove to a warm plate. Add the rest of the oil to the pan and and the chopped garlic and shallot shoots. While they are softening, wash and halve the tomatoes. Add them to the pan and cook for a few moments until they are soft. Stir in the chopped anchovies and cook until they are partially dissolved and the whole mess smells delightfully garlicky and salty and tangy.
Plate the tuna steaks and cover them partially with the salsa. Garnish with the remaining anchovy filets.
Although my two fish dishes were delightfully delicious...I'm afraid they were not particularly pretty when I came to photograph them. This is the best of the photos - tuna looking a bit bland next to the garish tomatoes. I'm a cook, not a photographer!