Salmon for St. Patrick's Day

COOKING FOR TWO

Ireland: This year, forget corned beef

try the national fish, and see how Irish cuisine has changed.

March 10, 2002|By Bev Bennett | Bev Bennett,Special to the Sun

Grapefruit, Lovage and Cucumber Salad; Lettuce and Mint Soup; Salmon with Leek-Tarragon Butter; Glazed Strawberry and Lemon Curd Tart.

If you think the above is the menu of a trendy American restaurant, think again. You'll find these dishes in one of several modern Irish cookbooks. True, Irish cooks still make traditional dishes such as colcannon -- a cabbage and potato dish, shepherd's pie, and what we all think of as Irish cuisine -- corned beef and cabbage. But that's just the beginning.

Today's Irish cooks are finding new ways to prepare salmon, which may be considered the national fish. They're using regionally caught scallops, oysters, mussels and prawns. Irish farmers, like those in the U.S., are growing herbs and delicate greens for discriminating cooks. You won't find monochromatic food arrangements in Irish restaurants.

For this year's Two's Company salute to St. Patrick, skip the usual corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. Instead, incorporate Irish ingredients into lighter tasting and colorful dishes. Go for the green in a risotto that blends asparagus, green onions and dill with fat chunks of salmon, and add a shot of Irish whiskey for a smoky accent.

Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services.

Asparagus, Salmon and Onion Risotto

Serves 2

1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off, spears cut into 1 1/2 -inch lengths

salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium shallot, minced

2 tablespoons Irish whiskey

1 cup arborio rice

3 to 4 cups chicken broth, heated

1/2 pound salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 teaspoon minced fresh dill

1 / 4 cup chopped green onions, green part only

1 / 4 cup whipping cream

pepper

Place asparagus in skillet with 1 teaspoon salt and water to cover. Bring to boil. Cook at medium-high heat until asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

Heat oil in skillet. Add shallot and saute 1 minute over medium heat. Add whiskey and cook over high heat to reduce liquid by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Add rice and saute 1 minute to moisten grains. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and cook over medium heat until rice absorbs liquid, stirring occasionally, 7 to 10 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup broth and repeat. Add about 2 more cups broth, 1/2 cup at a time, and allow each to be absorbed before adding more. When rice is almost tender, stir in salmon cubes and cook 8 to 10 minutes. Add additional broth if mixture is dry.

Stir in reserved asparagus, dill, green onions, cream, salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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