Jonathan Franzen's Freedom has consumed the attention of readers, including the Salon Reading club — and now even Oprah has made peace with the past, and picked the novel for her book club. Freedom is the kind of story you can get lost in, and wonder where time went, when all of a sudden you realize it is dinnertime and there is no food to eat.
Reading and cooking have always gone together for me. A author can tell so much is depicting a meal, such as wartime dumplings of Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club to Franzen's own Dinner of Revenge from The Corrections.
Freedom's main character Patty starts out as a young East Coast woman who marries a Minnesota Swede. They settle down to raise a family and gentrify a Schlitz-drinnking St. Paul neighborhood. Patty spends her afternoons listening to public radio, cooking from the Silver Palate Cookbook, and rewards herself with a glass of Zinfandel at the end of the day (her gossipy neighbor prefers Beaujolais Nouveau).
Although Patty is described as an excellent cook, I could have used a few more details. What kind of food would Patty have prepared? I can only imagine that being the 1980s, when salmon captured to the fancy of the American palate and being married to a man of Swedish heritage, salmon would have been on the menu.
Alas, my copy of the Silver Palate Cookbook contains no recipe for salmon, and my own experience with Swedish cuisine is confined mainly to the IKEA cafeteria. While most diners order the meatballs, I prefer the open faced salmon sandwich: slices of gravid lax, sliced hardboiled egg and fronds of fresh dill served atop a rye toast.
Traditional recipes for gravid lax , or gravlax, require five days to cure the salmon. So I've decided to blend the crisp flavors of Scandinavia with a quicker method of preparing salmon: poke.
I had the best intentions in creating this recipe, but unfortunately, got something wrong — probably too much lemon juice, which turned the poke into a ceviche.
So, like a good work of fiction, any resemblance my recipe bears to an actual poke is purely coincidental. Perhaps Francis Lam, in his Infinite Chef-ness, or one of my fellow Open Salon bloggers can suggest how this recipe can be edited.
Scandinavian Salmon Poke
1/3 lb. Fresh salmon fillet (buy it specially marked for sashimi at a Japanese market, or make sure you're on good terms with the fishmonger)
1/4 tsp. Dried dill weed
1/4 c. Dried wakame seaweed
2 Tbs. Finely diced red onion
1/4 c.Diced English cucumber
1/4 c. Lemon juice
1/4 c. Grapeseed or canola oil
Coarse sea salt, to taste
Rye crackers or toasted dark rye bread
Soak dried wakame in bowl of warm water for 30 minutes. When the seaweed becomes soft and pliable, squeeze out excess water.
Skin the salmon, if necessary, and cut into 1/2" cubes.
Whisk together lemon juice and grapeseed oil.
Put cubed salmon, red onion, cucumber in a bowl.
Pour dressing over mixture, sprinkle sea salt to taste (I like it on the briny side, reminds me of the ocean).
Sprinkle with dill weed
Serve with rye crackers or toast.
Pour yourself a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau or Zinfandel and enjoy!