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Salmon with Wild Mushroom Sauce

Serves: Makes 6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 6 (6-ounce) skin-on salmon fillet pieces, pin bones removed
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Wild Mushroom Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 cup minced shallots or yellow onion
  • 12 ounces wild mushrooms, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • 14 cup Cognac or other brandy
  • 34 cup chicken stock or top-quality chicken broth
  • 12 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Wild mushrooms are one of the most distinctive ingredients we’re blessed with in the Northwest. It’s hard to imagine a more Northwest partnership than wild mushrooms with local wild salmon. The cooking technique here sautés the fish just on the skin side, so the skin gets crispy-brown while the surface of the fish is very tender and delicate.
A dozen or more varieties of wild mushrooms are available throughout the year in well-stocked produce sections and at farmers’ markets. During spring I tend to use morel mushrooms for this dish and in the fall the prolific chanterelle, but other types can be utilized as well. You can even use shiitake or other cultivated mushrooms if you’re unable to find wild mushrooms. Do not wash wild mushrooms with water. When these delicate mushrooms get wet they become soggy and lose much of their flavor. Instead, use a small mushroom brush to clean off any dirt and leaves.
  1. For the mushroom sauce, heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until tender and aromatic. Add half of the mushrooms and the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the Cognac and carefully flame the brandy with a long match. When the flames subside, add the chicken stock. Simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, until reduced by onequarter. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the cream, and let cool slightly. Purée the mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth; set aside.

  2. Chop the remaining mushrooms more finely. Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the finely chopped mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes, until tender. Add the mushroom purée and thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep the sauce warm over very low heat while cooking the salmon, or gently reheat just before serving.

  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Add the garlic, remove the pan from the heat, and let sit to infuse for 5 minutes. Scoop the garlic into a small dish (save for another use) and return the skillet to medium heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Add the pieces to the pan skin side down and cook without turning for about 10 minutes, or until the skin is nicely browned and the flesh is nearly opaque across the top. If the tops are not cooked in that time, cover the skillet loosely with a piece of foil for 1 to 2 minutes, which will help the tops cook.

  4. Transfer the salmon pieces to individual plates and spoon the mushroom sauce over. Garnish with a sprinkle of parsley and serve.

by Sur La Table & Renée Behnke

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