Entertaining and Holidays

New Year’s Eve Entertaining Guide: Northwest-Style Seafood Starters and Wine Pairings

Steelhead Diner shares recipe for festive old-world dishes gone local.

By Kaitlin Nunn December 22, 2009

A traditional salt-cod brandade, Steelhead uses King salmon instead of cod.

Is there anything more festive than an enormous platter of oysters on New Year’s Eve? You can’t go wrong serving guests Totten Inlet Virginicas (available at Ballard and U District farmers markets), presented over ice and topped with Steelhead Diner chef/owner Kevin Davis’s amazing Meyer lemon granita.

If you can’t do the raw thing, try the second recipe, a puree of king salmon from Steelhead chef de cuisine Anthony Polizzi. Called brandade in Europe, it is made throughout the continent with salt cod; Steelhead gives it a Northwest twist by using king salmon. Happy New Year!

Yields: 24 oysters

24 Totten Inlet Virginica Oysters
1 cup white distilled vinegar
4 Meyer lemons
½ tsp white pepper, ground
1 tbsp red onion, finely diced
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar

Zest all of the Meyer Lemons and chop zest finely. Juice and strain into a mixing bowl

Combine zest and vinegar in a small pot and bring to just about a simmer. Cool.

Add remaining ingredients to the lemon juice in the mixing bowl and add cooled lemon-infused vinegar.
Place in shallow container and freeze for 24 hours.

Wash the oysters and open with an oyster shucker.
With a spoon, scrape 1 tablespoon of granita with a spoon garnish onto each oyster.

WINE PAIRINGS: Top off your Virginicas with a local and cost-effective sparkling wine. Steelhead carries a Pacific Rim “White Flowers” Sparkling Riesling, Columbia, NV. “It’s yeasty, heady, and finishes with an apple taste,” explains Davis. Or there’s the Mountain Dome sparkling from Spokane reasonably priced at $18 per half-bottle. If you’re going to splurge, go for the Argyle Brut from Williamette, $51 per bottle.

Serves 4

½ lb Alderwood smoked king salmon
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, halved and sliced
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 clove garlic, finely minced
½ yellow onion, Small Diced
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp white pepper, ground
1 tsp nutmeg, grated
1 tsp thyme, chopped
1 cup Willamette Valley Creamery Brindisi fontina cheese, grated
2 tbsp chopped chives
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Flake smoked salmon and discard the skin. It should yield roughly two cups.
Combine heavy cream, milk and potatoes and bring to simmer, cooking until the potatoes are tender. Do not boil.

In a heavy bottomed pot, render garlic in olive oil.
When garlic is rendered add the bay leaf and onions. Sweat onions until translucent. Next, add the flaked salmon and sauté briefly.When potatoes are cooked strain and reserve the liquid.

Add potatoes, white pepper and nutmeg to the salmon mixture and mash with a wooden spoon, combining with the other ingredients. Thin the mixture slightly with reserved milk and cream mixture. It will take roughly six ounces. Divide mixture amongst four ramekins and sprinkle with grated Brindisi. Bake in 400 degree oven until bubbly.

Garnish with chopped chives. Serve with grilled bread or your favorite crackers.

WINE PAIRINGS: Try a 2007 Whidbey Island Madeline Angevine Puget Sound ($12) or the 2008 Abacela Albarino, Umpqua ($18).

Bars, bands, parties, dinner: our complete New Year’s Guide is here.

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