Applewood-Smoked California Steelhead | Wine Enthusiast
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Photo of Applewood-Smoked California Steelhead with caviar.

Applewood-Smoked California Steelhead

Fun Fact: The Sacramento area produces 80 percent of the caviar consumed in the U.S.

This is your evening, not ours,” says Executive Chef Kelly McCown as he welcomes diners to The Kitchen. For more than two decades, the restaurant has wowed patrons with both its platters (five-course meals that highlight fresh, local ingredients) and patter (the chef acts as emcee). Diners can get seconds of any dish they like, and at “Intermission,” freely wander into the kitchen for snacks and conversation.


2 Sierra Beauty apples (or other firm, sweet/tart apple), cored and julienned
2 tablespoons Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette* Fennel salt, to taste**
½ cup crème fraîche
8–10 ounces hot-smoked steelhead or salmon
2 tablespoons caviar (preferably Passmore Ranch or Sterling Royal)
1 bunch baby watercress
4 pumpernickel or buckwheat crackers

Directions for Applewood-Smoked California Steelhead

Place apples in mixing bowl. Toss gently with Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette. Add fennel salt, to taste. Place equal amounts of crème fraîche in bottom of four serving bowls. Cut salmon into four equal portions, and set atop crème fraîche. Spoon apple salad onto each salmon piece, then add caviar. Add watercress sprigs  and a cracker alongside each. Serves 4.

Ingredients for Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette

½ cup minced shallots
1 cup dry vermouth
1 cup verjus or rice-wine vinegar
½ cup lemon juice
2 cups olive oil
½ cup tarragon mustard

Directions for Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette

In thick-bottomed saucepan, combine shallots, vermouth, verjus and lemon juice. Bring to boil, then simmer until reduced by half. Set aside to cool. Mix in olive oil and mustard.

Ingredients for Fennel Salt

1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon anise seeds
½ tablespoon mustard seeds
½ tablespoon coriander seeds
½ cup salt

Directions for Fennel Salt

Toast seeds in skillet. Grind and combine with salt.

Pair It

A 2015 Skinner Vineyards Grenache Blanc from El Dorado County brings its own lemony, herbaceous notes to this dish, along with some acid to cut the salmon’s buttery flavor.

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