Dessert wines are not just for dessert!

Posted on by fratellospirito

So today I tackle my first post that isn’t a review or an introduction.  I am very excited and as promised this post will be related to how you can use alcohol in food.  So I decided rather than starting with something like a beer can chicken recipe or a wine marinated steak (don’t worry we will get to those) I would start with something a bit simpler and sweeter.

The words Port or Tawny don’t come up to often in the vocabulary of recreational drinkers. These dessert wines are often overlooked for their friends, hard liquor, mixed drinks, and beer.  But they can hit the spot as a nightcap or can enhance the flavors of a side dish to compliment your dinner.  So today I am going to talk about a meal I made for my lovely lady Mary.  Who, by the way, also took all my photos.  (If you would like to see more of her work click here.)

Atlantic Salmon with sides of salted edamame and tawny soaked Bartlett pears. I served this with a 2009 Woodstock Collection Honey Pie.

INGREDIENTS: Serves 2 people
1 lb. of Atlantic salmon
2 pears
1 lemon
1 Bag of frozen edamame
1 tsp. of salt
1 cup of tawny
olive oil
1/2 cup of potlatch seasoning

When it comes to a dessert wine to choose for the pears I went with Penfolds Tawny.  I find it has just the right amount of sweetness and really enhances the flavors of the pears.

So where to start?  First thing I like to do is get the salmon out of its package and onto a flat surface, a plate or cutting board, this makes it easier to rub in the spices.

Once you have the salmon laid out and cut in half, I like to start with a layer of some salt. So take the salt you have put aside for yourself and rub it evenly into your salmon.

Then you want to grab your potlatch seasoning.  I love this stuff.  I was introduced to it several years ago by a wonderful girl named Katharine.  Since then I use it every time I make salmon.  Upon investigation by Mary, we found that you can purchase a can at Williams Sonoma for about 15 dollars.  Trust me – it is worth it.  Go ahead and rub the seasoning into the salmon.  Don’t be afraid to push it into the fish a bit.  It makes for flavorful surprises once cooked.

After you have the seasoning and salt on the salmon, give it a couple of minutes to settle. While you are waiting, go ahead and throw your edamame into a pot with some water.  Put it on the stove on high. And let the boiling process begin.

Next step grab the dessert wine and pour the cup of the liquid into a bowl.

Next cut up your pears into thin slices.  You don’t want them shredded thin because that will cause them to shrivel in the pan when you cook them.  Just thin enough to allow for the dessert wine to be able to soak into them.  After you cut the pears, put your slices into the bowl filled with your dessert wine and let them soak for 5 minutes.

At this point your edamame should be starting to heat up.  When the pot starts to boil, wait for a ring of foam to form at the top.  When it does, turn the burner off and allow the edamame to cool while you prepare the salmon and pears.

Grab two large frying pans and cover them with olive oil. One pan will be for your salmon, the other for your pears after they have soaked in the wine.

Dealing with the salmon first, bring your pan to medium heat.  When you can feel the heat coming off the center of the pan go ahead and drop the salmon into it.  Make sure you keep skin on the bottom of the fish so it can absorb the initial heat so the exposed fish doesn’t get burned.

After a minute, go ahead and flip the salmon, so the skin side is facing up.  Get a pair of tongs and gently pull the skin from the fish.  The initial heat should have charred it enough to allow for an easy removal.  It is important to do this gently so you don’t break up the fish.

After you remove the skin go ahead flip the salmon back over.  You’ll want to keep an eye on the salmon and alternate every few minutes until the center is a nice pinkish orange color.  While you are cooking the salmon throw a few slices of lemon onto the top of the fish while it is in the pan.  The juices leak through and it adds a nice citrus kick later on.

Now it is time to get to the pears while your salmon is on the pan next to you.  Bring up the secondary pan to medium heat and drop in a few slices of pear at a time.  Do not drop in all the liquid at once – you want to allow the liquid that has soaked into the pears to burn out a little.  But make sure you reserve the liquid for a few minutes.  Use a pair of tongs to make sure the pears don’t remain static in the pan.  You want them to be sweet.

After a minute or two, go ahead and pour the remaining liquid into the pan to give the pears one last soak.  Turn the burner down to low heat and let the pears sizzle for a few moments while you plate your now cooked salmon and edamame.  Make sure you strain and wash the edamame before you plate it.

Then go ahead and drain any remaining pear liquid into the sink and use your tongs to place them onto your plate.  You will notice they have shrunk a bit in the cooking process. Don’t be discouraged.  They are going to taste awesome.

The spice and saltiness of the fish will counterbalance so wonderfully with the sweetened pears.  If you are feeling adventurous, take a bite with both the salmon and the pears.  You will be happy you did.


I look forward to our next culinary alcoholic adventure.  But until then check out my weekly booze review.

Good Spirits Folks!


[addtoany] Yum


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