As promised in this week’s Pairing column, which paired Alamos 2013 Torrontés with a shrimp dish inspired by Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck scampi, here is my recipe for slow-cooked wild salmon with mango salsa, also excellent with the wine. It was originally paired with  Cline 2009 North Coast Viognier.

While we’re on the subject of scampi, a reader took me to task–”You should be ashamed of yourself” is how she put it–for misusing the word, pointing out that scampi, by definition, is a type of shellfish. She adds that scampi are impossible to obtain in the United States and that there is no such things as “shrimp scampi,” which suggests the writer has not looked at an Italian-American menu in the last six decades of so. Scampi, in its purist form, refers to “nephrops norvegicus” or similar lobster, often referred to as langoustines or Norway lobsters. They are about the size of large crayfish and I’ve enjoyed them a few times. They are more common in Europe, especially around the Mediterranean, than in the United States but I have had them here on several occasions.

The writer offers a valid argument: At what point do we insist on tradition and at what point do we give in to evolving usage? I get annoyed when certain culinary terms are tossed about in a cavalier way, especially when they don’t honor the original. For example, when I order “Spaghetti Carbonara” in a restaurant I expect spaghetti cloaked in egg with bacon or pancetta, lots of black pepper and grated cheese. If I get pasta in a cream sauce, I’m grumpy. Perhaps I should have called the recipe “Shrimp Inspired by Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck Scampi,” as the dish was certainly that, inspired by the shrimp truck that parks on the North Shore of Oahu, a bit west of Punalu’u. When it comes to usage of terms, I draw the line somewhere between wanting Caesar Salad and, say, bahn mi, the Vietnamese sandwich, to be absolutely traditional, and feeling it’s okay to call shrimp sautéed in garlic, white wine and butter scampi. What are your thoughts on this topic?


 Slow-cooked Wild King Salmon with Mango Salsa • Serves 4

  • 4 wild King salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each, scaled
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small ripe mangoes (see Note below)
  • 1 tablespoon minced red onion
  • 1 serrano, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons mildly-flavored extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves or Italian parsley leaves
  • Cilantro or parsley sprigs, for garnish
  • 4 lime wedges
  1.  Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Season the salmon fillets all over with salt and pepper and brush them lightly with olive oil. Set the fillets on a sheet pan, set the pan on the middle rack of the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. While the salmon cooks, make the salsa. With a very sharp knife, peel the mango and cut the fruit from the seed. Cut the mango flesh into 1/4 inch dice and put it into a medium bowl.
  4. Add the onion, serrano, vinegar, lime juice and olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Use 2 forks to toss very gently. Taste, correct for salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.(You can, if you prefer, make the salsa a few hours before preparing the salmon.)
  5. Set the cooked salmon on individual plates and spoon some of the salsa on top, placing it so that some tumbles onto the plate. Garnish with cilantro or parsley sprigs and a wedge of lime. Serve immediately.

Note: If ripe mangos are not available, use ripe white peaches, ripe apricots or, if you can find it, white pineapple. Be sure to taste the salsa as you make it, adjusting the acid as needed; pineapple will need less acid and apricots will likely need a bit more.

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