Courtesy Tim Wood, executive chef, Valley Kitchen at Carmel Valley Ranch
One of our most important local ingredients is Monterey Bay king salmon. We are fortunate to have our own fisherman, Jerry Wetle, and his fleet of well-trained professionals who supply us twice a week with fresh local fish. I met Jerry on a fishing boat here in Monterey 17 years ago, and we have been working together like family. Jerry is featured on our menu at the Valley Kitchen with his line-caught fish of the day, which rotates based on seasonal availability.
My advice for where to purchase fresh fish would be to seek out a good market or your favorite restaurant, where you feel the quality is above par, and simply ask places they would recommend in the area. Not all chefs are willing to give up their secrets, but asking is a great start. As with many things in life, buying fish can be trial and error, but when you find an exceptional fish shop, it can make all the difference.
6 seven-ounce filets Monterey Bay king salmon
2 pounds asparagus, blanched
Spring vegetables, such as peas, green onions and mushrooms
1 bunch of thyme
Salt and pepper
Spring Asparagus Purée (see recipe here)
Heat oven to 350° F. In a large heavy-bottomed sauté pan add olive oil, salt and pepper. Bring to medium/medium-high heat. Season fish with salt and pepper. Add fish to the pan in batches, allowing it to cook evenly without overcrowding, for 4 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and place in an ovenproof dish with a sprig of thyme and teaspoon of butter on each fillet and baste accordingly. Roast in oven for 3 to 6 minutes depending on thickness of fish. Prepare vegetables as desired.
To finish, pour the asparagus purée on a warm plate. Place salmon in the middle and place the warm vegetables and asparagus spears around it.
Chef Hack: Peel the bottom half of the asparagus with a vegetable peeler and blanch in salted, boiling water. Have ice bath ready to cool asparagus, so it does not overcook.