August 16, 2020
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Truffle Shuffle: Salmon

Truffle Shuffle: Salmon

Truffle Shuffle is a Bay Area startup led by a small team of young French Laundry alumni. Right after Trump announced a travel ban, they ordered thousands of dollars of truffles to sell to restaurants. Suddenly, all the restaurants closed. So, they started selling truffles to individuals, improvising cooking kits and live, online classes.

They sent us a kit for a Sunday evening class on Salmon en papillote with truffled beurre blanc. This is salmon, vegetables and wine, wrapped up in parchment paper and baked in a moderate oven. I was, I admit, a little bit skeptical, because this did not seem to be a very difficult dish.

It was amazing.

First thing: they sent a lovely piece of carefully-farmed King Salmon — a piece that you could use with confidence for sushi. That’s good in itself, and better still in that it gives you confidence serving the salmon after the gentlest of gentle poaching. The class had a cameo and Q&A with Mitch Gronner, the cofounder of Aloha Seafood, who had some very interesting thoughts on the advantages — culinary and ecological — of farmed salmon. Here on The Atlantic Coast, we chiefly hear the case against farmed salmon; this was more interesting than I’d expected.

Second thing: using truffle butter for the beurre blanc really works.

Third: Beurre blanc is interesting. Shallot (lots of shallot) and white wine — no fat: reduce until nearly dry. Then cream: again, reduce as far as you dare. Then, start adding the butter. I’ve always started beurre blanc with a bit of fat from the pan in which to cook the shallots, but this worked brilliantly. (Beurre blanc, by the way, is the sauce that convinced Julia Child that the French knew something special about cooking.)

Fourth: 15 minutes at 300°F. That’s barely poached, we thought it was astonishingly good. (Atlantic Salmon is our most common fish, so “astonishing” is pretty good for salmon.). Soft, soft fish, warmed through and tender, infused with aroma from tarragon and its bed of squash and wax beans. Lovely yielding fish makes a nice textural contrast to the warm, crisp summer squash and wax beans.

We had a little bit of the beurre blanc left over. I chilled it, and Monday evening I slathered it under the skin of an organic, air-chilled chicken along with a smattering of fresh thyme. That worked nicely!

So: even though it didn’t seem a particularly challenging dish, and even though the tone of the whole enterprise is incredibly relaxed, the finesse and restraint (and great ingredients) made a dazzling dinner, and some unused sauce made another,

August 30 they’re doing fresh pasta carbonara with black truffle tartufata.