A long time ago I brewed a Tripel – it’s well-aged and vintage now, coming up on 2 years old, laid down in cork-and-cage bottles. We broke out a bottle the other night, and tonight I’m going to break out some more and cook with it.
Time has rendered it pilsner-clear, but like branches and leaves placed over a booby-trap, something is a little bit off visually: there’s a visible heaviness to the color that suggests great density, there’s something just boozy that happens to light in merely passing through the bowl of the glass. The aroma carries a whiff of cellar must ahead of sinus-clearing pepper, old German Riesling fusels with young southern hemisphere Sauv Blanc gooseberries and apples, citrus honey, bergamot oil, and a little bit of plum brandy. The bubbles are miniscule, the texture creamy, the finish dry and sustained. Archipelagos of lace and legs like a ZZ Top video on the inside of the rim after each sip. The aftereffect mellow and fostering a general distrust of your own knees and gravity.
Tripel and seafood are quite a bit alike – you just need to spring for good raw materials and let them do their thing on the palate. Tonight’s menu is short and sweet: some Alaskan sockeye, some Hyperannuated Tripel, and a mix of rutabaga, yam, winter squash, russet potato, and white onion, cubed up and roasting as I type.
I take pains not to be political or dogmatic in this blog, but I’m standing on a soapbox in my waders just this once: please choose wild-caught Pacific salmon (Chinook/king, sockeye, coho, etc.) or a different fish if that’s not available – farm-raised salmon is bad news. Thanks! Now let’s eat.
Salmon au Tripel
- 1-2 lbs salmon fillet or steaks
- olive oil
- sea salt
- 1 lemon
- 4 TB unsalted butter
- 1 750 mL (or the equivalent) Hyperannuated Tripel (or the equivalent)
- black pepper
Preheat oven to 375F. Wash the salmon under cold running water and pat dry. Rub on both sides with olive oil, then drizzle with salt and juice from half of the lemon. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the fillet skin-side down and put it in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes for every 1″ thickness of the fillet – YMMV.
While the fillet bakes, open the Tripel. Pour 3/4 cup in a small saucepan, and pour the rest into your glass – sip, repeat as necessary.
Heat the Tripel in the saucepan and add the butter; hold at a low simmer to melt the butter, drive off the alcohol, and marry the flavors (add the juice from the other half of the lemon to the saucepan if you like – I found it complemented and enhanced the fruity, spicy notes of the beer). Reduce by about half.
Take the salmon out of the oven, test for doneness (good, fresh salmon is killer if left a little rare, IMO). Portion the fish onto plates with lots of freshly-cracked black pepper and drizzles of the sauce. In another, warmer spring I might have had baby dill from the garden to garnish – dill it if you’ve got it. Serve with roasted or mashed mixed root veggies and more Tripel.