Sandefjordsmør brings salmon to life
Simple ingredients shine in this “typisk norsk” salmon and cucumber salad supper
Christy Olsen Field
Salmon is a regular on the dinner menu for my family. Living in Seattle, we have access to excellent fresh fish, and salmon is one of the dependable proteins that my toddler son will eat with gusto.
I like to prepare salmon with different flavor profiles and techniques, from a miso-glazed filet with a quick broil in the oven to the Pacific Northwest-style cedar plank on the grill.
But there is nothing better to me than the “typisk norsk” trinity of salmon, boiled new potatoes, and cucumber salad. And to celebrate the return of spring, I added a favorite Norwegian sauce: Sandefjordsmør.
Sandefjordsmør is a classic Norwegian sauce and a terrific accompaniment for all fish and shellfish. Legend has it was created in 1959 by Otto Fredrik Borchgrevink, who was the long-time hotel manager at the Park Hotel in Sandefjord. During World War II, Borchgrevink studied in France and became familiar with the classic French sauce beurre blanc. He simplified the recipe by removing the shallot and white wine from the ingredient list, and thus a Norwegian classic was born.
The rich, velvety texture of Sandefjordsmør is a lovely counterpoint to delicately poached salmon and simple boiled new potatoes. And served with agurksalat (Norwegian cucumber salad), you’ll want to celebrate like this for the whole season.
Posjert laks / Poached Salmon
Recipe adapted from fritosandfoiegras.com
2 lbs salmon fillets or steaks, preferably wild
1 ½ cups white wine
1 ½ cups water
1 lemon, slice into rounds
handful of Italian flat-leaf parsley (stems are fine here)
Poaching salmon, like poaching eggs, is an intimidating technique in the kitchen. If the temperature is too high, the fish can turn rubbery and dry. Too low, and the fish will remain raw in the center.
So I went in search of an idiotsikker (foolproof) recipe. If you’re new to poaching fish, give this method a try. I think you’ll like it.
Season the salmon fillets with kosher salt. In a large skillet on high heat, combine wine and water and bring to a boil. Add the lemon and parsley. Once it boils, remove pan from heat. Gently nestle the salmon fillets in the poaching liquid, skin side down. The salmon should start to turn opaque immediately. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, set the timer for 30 minutes, and walk away. Check the thickest part of the fillets with a fork. If it flakes easily and is (mostly) opaque, your salmon is ready! If your fillets are thick and still red after 30 minutes, put the skillet on medium-low heat for a few minutes until the salmon is cooked through. Remove the skin and sharp pinbones.
Poached salmon can be served warm or cold. Serve with a generous serving of Sandefjordsmør saus, accompanied by simple boiled new potatoes and agurksalat (cucumber salad).
Serves 4 (or 2 adults and one salmon-loving toddler).
Sandefjordsmør saus / Sandefjord Butter Sauce
Recipe adapted from Tine.no
¾ cup whipping cream
½ cup unsalted butter, chilled
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
handful of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil for 5 minutes so it thickens and reduces slightly. Whisk regularly and keep a close eye on it, as it can easily boil over! Remove from heat. Cut butter into small cubes and whisk in bit by bit. Once the butter is incorporated, whisk in the lemon juice and salt to taste. Add a handful of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley and serve. It will thicken as it cools.
If you need to reheat the sauce, gently warm in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Take care not to boil!
Agurksalat / Norwegian cucumber salad
1 English cucumber
½ cup white vinegar
½ cup water
2 tbsps. sugar
2 tsps. salt
¼ cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
This is a Norwegian classic. Add it to your repertoire and enjoy it all spring and summer!
With a mandolin or sharp knife, thinly slice the cucumber into rounds. Alternatively, slice with an ostehøvel (cheese slicer).
In a small bowl, combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add cucumber to the bowl and toss to combine. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 mins to allow flavors to marry. Before serving, stir in the parsley.
Christy Olsen Field was on the editorial staff of the Norwegian American Weekly from 2008 to 2012, and the Taste of Norway page was her favorite section. Today, she is a freelance grantwriter for small to mid-size nonprofits with her business, Christy Ink. Learn more at www.christy.ink.
This article originally appeared in the April 8, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.