I’ve been reading Culinaire Saisonnier, a Belgian magazine geared towards chefs, for almost fifteen years. While I don’t always have the time for their articles on regional products or their lengthy chef portraits, I always find their restaurant recipes very inspiring, for their ingredient pairings, cooking techniques, and plating. Every now and then, I write a post that’s inspired more or less directly by a dish I discovered in their pages, such as this cured salmon with spring vegetables, this potato cream soup, or this red cabbage cappuccino with duck magret. In the Fall 2018 issue (on page 10, if you must know), I spotted a short recipe for “Pajottenland Wagyu beef, with Vancouver wild salmon roe.” This “simple and savory earth-sea pairing” was created by Glen Ramaerkers, head chef at restaurant Humphrey in Brussels. Because the restaurant specializes in small plates to share, it makes sense that Ramaerkers’ preparation wasn’t overly complicated.
Until that article, I didn’t know where Pajottenland was (it turns out it’s a region southwest of Brussels and it’s home to Lambic beers) and had no clue that Vancouver was famous for its salmon roe (although I did once fish for salmon in the Straight of Georgia and even wrote about my trip here). But that’s beside the point. To continue my recipe series on the Russian Far North, I’ve been tossing around ideas for a venison recipe; trying to come up with something off the beaten berry-and-mushroom path. So why not take this dish and replace the Wagyu beef with elk ribeye? Salmon roe, sour cream, herbs – the other ingredients are already Russian! Plus, an earth-sea pairing is just the thing to evoke a region where the forests, rich in wild game, are juxtaposed with the historically all-important White Sea, and where salmon is one of the main catches. Against all odds, salmon roe and red meat go really well together, in no small part thanks to the saltiness of the eggs.
Elk steak with salmon roe cream sauce
Yields 2 servings
250 g elk ribeye steak, about 4 cm thick
about 3.75 g salt (see below)
10 g canola oil
black pepper, ground
15 g butter
65 g sour cream
65 g heavy cream
5 g lemon juice
2.5 g parsley, finely chopped
2.5 g chives, finely chopped
40 g salmon roe
fleur de sel
- Remove all the silverskin around the elk steak, and tie with butchers twine. Weigh 1.5% of the meat’s weight in salt, and season the steak on all sides.
- Heat the canola oil in a pan over very high heat. Sear the meat until brown on both sides, then transfer to a board, and let rest for a minute. Season with black pepper, place into a sous-vide pouch with the butter, and vacuum-seal. Cook in a 50 C / 122 F water bath for 1 hour.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the sour cream and heavy cream to a simmer. Remove from heat, then gently stir in the lemon juice, parsley, chives, and salmon roe.
- Divide the sauce between warm plates, then gently shake the plates so the sauce covers the entire bottom. Take the steak out of the sous-vide pouch, cut into 6 long slices (cut off both ends if you want to serve only perfectly rare slices). Arrange the meat on the plates, sprinkle with fleur de sel, and serve immediately.