Last Updated on July 4, 2022 by Share My Kitchen
A cucumber sauce to accompany salmon is a classic combination that often gets overlooked. This could be because it is so common in Eastern Europe and Scandinavian cuisine.
Cucumber cools whatever it meets on a plate. For this salmon recipe, the cucumber reduces the richness and punch of a great wild fish, which is more flavorful than the farmed Atlantic stuff. This is especially true for kings, sockeyes, and the most assertive salmon.
What Inspired this Cucumber Sauce for Salmon?
The inspiration for this cucumber sauce is from the book Neue Cuisine: The Elegant Tastes of Vienna: Recipes from Cafe Sabarsky, Wallse, and Blaue Gans, written by Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner.
What Fish Should be Used?
You can use king salmon to cook for this recipe, or any salmon, in fact, even the farmed Atlantic salmon.
The original recipe calls to cook halibut. It doesn’t contain tomatoes, and the sauce is a little more complex. However, even if it’s reduced in size, this dish is still a great date-night meal, and not something to make on Wednesday nights. It’s not difficult to make, but you will need a few hours to allow the cucumbers and dill to strain slowly.
Fortunately, you can do both of these steps ahead. This makes it easier to put together the dish since everything is set.
How to Cook the Fish
The salmon is just seared in a hot pan until it has a crispy crust on one end. Then, it can be served with an onion-cucumber-dill sauce with chunks of cucumbers and a few cherry tomatoes. Finally, it is garnished with more dill, white pepper, and salmon caviar.
Although salmon caviar may not be necessary, it is a great addition to any dish when it is well made. Its flavor is almost the same as chicken egg yolks, and it actually adds a flare to the whole dish. However, you can skip caviar if you don’t enjoy it.
It’s just as beautiful to eat as it is to look at. There are many flavors and textures going on: crunchy crust, salmon’s silky interior, a cooling, mellow sauce, bright zip of cherry tomatoes, and the rich salmon caviar. If your guests are not impressed by this dish, you can find new ones.
How to Serve the Cucumber Sauce For Salmon
This can be served with Swedish Crab Salad or Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs to create a delicious Northern European meal.
You can make this recipe in winter with hothouse cucumbers but remove the tomatoes. It’s better to skip them than use unsavory out-of-season tomatoes. You can use any type of salmon, trout, or char. Are you not a fan of salmon? Try halibut. However, if you need thick fish for this recipe, keep that in mind.
Cucumber Sauce For Salmon Recipe
|Prep Time||30 mins|
|Cook Time||20 mins|
|Total Time||50 mins|
Dill Oil (Optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped dill, plus a few sprigs for garnish later
- 1 cup neutral oil (sunflower, canola, grapeseed)
- 4 pretty blocks of salmon, trout, or really any other large fish
- 2 to 4 tablespoons clarified butter, walnut oil, or vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, minced
- 2 tablespoons walnut oil or vegetable oil
- 2 cucumbers, preferably English, 1 of them peeled
- Salt and a pinch of sugar
- Lemon juice to taste
- White pepper to taste (optional)
- 10 to 20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- First, to make the dill oil, blend the oil and the dill in the blender. Puree for about a minute at high speed. Then, place finely meshed cheesecloth in a strainer, and pour the oil into it. Put the whole thing inside the refrigerator, and let it drip slowly. The bright green color will be preserved if you keep it in the fridge. This can be done up until 3 days ahead.
- Salt the salmon pieces, then place them in the refrigerator.
- Cook the onion in the olive oil gently until softened and translucent. You cover the saucepan over medium-low heat to do this. Remember not to let the onions brown. Once they’re cooked, puree them in a blender until smooth, and set aside.
- Each cucumber should be cut lengthwise. You can use a spoon to remove all seeds from both cucumbers. Don’t toss them. Then, chop the unpeeled cucumber, and put it and the seeds into the blender. Puree. Pour the puréed cucumber in a strainer with fine mesh over a bowl. Allow it to strain for 2 hours, untouched. While straining, dice the peeled cucumber.
- In order to create the sauce, whisk as much of the strained cucumber water into the pureed onions as necessary to make the sauce have a similar consistency to melted ice cream. Mix in 2 tablespoons of the dill oil, then save the rest for a different dish. Then, season the sauce with lemon juice, salt, and white pepper. This is best served at room temperature. However, you can warm it up gently. It should not be heated too much, or it may break and taste strange.
- For the salmon, heat the oil in a pan over high heat until it is almost smoking. Pat dry the salmon with paper towels before being placed in the pan. Sear the salmon on one side for 6-8 minutes. Don’t let the fish burn, but you need a wonderful crust. If your salmon is very thick, you may need to flip it and cook the other side. However, you can simply baste the exposed side of the salmon with hot oil if it is less than an inch thick.
- Serve by tossing the cucumbers and cherry tomatoes in the sauce, and pouring some of it into shallow bowls or plates with a well in the center. Place the seared salmon on the top side up. Then, if you have any, top with some salmon caviar and a bit more dill.
You can enjoy this dish with a crisp white wine such as a Chenin blanc, or a French Sancerre. It would also be delicious with a German Riesling, or an Italian Pinot Grigio. Or, you can choose a hefeweizen or a good lager for beer.
Keys to Success
- You should try to make the dill oil. It’s great with many Scandinavian and Germanic dishes. It will keep for a long time in your fridge.
- Clarified butter can be purchased as ghee at many supermarkets in the section with the other oils, not in the butter section.
- Green zebra tomatoes, or any other tomato that is greenish-yellow when it is ripe, are great additions.