Corn Pancakes with Thinly Sliced Salmon, Caviar, and Watercress Sauce
What an elegant surprise! Each corn pancake holds a treasure of fresh salmon and caviar, and is beautifully balanced by a vivid green watercress sauce.
- Norwegian salmon - One 8-ounce piece fresh, cut from tail end
- Golden Sturgeon - 3 oz (alt. salmon caviar)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Corn Pancakes
- Corn - 4 ears fresh
- Egg - 3
- Flour - 2 tablespoons
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Freshly ground black pepper - 1/2 teaspoon
- Watercress Sauce
- Water - 3 cups
- Salt - To taste
- Watercress - 2 cups, firmly packed leaves (about 2 bunches)
- Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons
- Shallots - 2 tablespoons, minced
- Dry White Wine - 1/2 cup
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/2 cup
- Vegetable Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Tomato - 2 large, peeled and seeded
- White and black sesame seeds - Mixed and toasted
- Asparagus tips - 18, blanched for 30 seconds
- Sour Cream - 2 tablespoons
- Chives - 1 tablespoon, minced fresh
To prepare the salmon. Run your fingers over the salmon from heat to tail end to find any small hidden bones and remove them before slicing. Using a very thin sharp knife and slicing toward the tail end, cut 6 thin lengthwise slices of salmon. Spoon 1 generous teaspoon on caviar on one half of each piece of salmon and fold the opposite end over. Set the remaining caviar aside, covered, in the refrigerator. Season the salmon lightly with salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside and keep cool until ready to cook.
To make the pancake batter: In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook the corn for 3 minutes, then drain and cut the kernels from the cobs. You should have about 2 cups of corn. Place the corn, eggs, flour, salt, and pepper in a blender or processor and process until coarsely pureed, leaving some bits of corn kernels. Pour the batter into a bowl and set aside.
To make the sauce: In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil, lightly salt, and cook the watercress until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Plunge the leaves into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again and squeeze tightly in a cotton towel to remove all of the moisture. There should be about 1/2 cup of cooked watercress.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and cook the shallots until translucent, about 1-1/2 minutes. Add the wine, stir, and cook to reduce until very little liquid remains. Add the cream to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the watercress and cook an additional 5 minutes. Pour the mixture into a blender or processor and blend until completely smooth. Return to the pan to keep warm.
To cook the pancakes: Preheat the oven to 200 F. Heat a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat, brush the surface of the pan with the vegetable oil, and spoon 1-1/2 tablespoons of batter into the pan. Set one salmon packet on top of the batter and spoon more batter on top to cover the salmon. Repeat to make 2 more pancakes. Cook until the pancakes are a golden brown color on one side, about 1-1/2 minutes. Before the pancakes are set, push in the edges with a spatula to make each a uniform round “cake” shape. Turn and cook on the second side until browned, about 1-1/2 minutes. The total cooking time will be about 3 minutes. Place the cooked pancakes in the oven to stay warm while you cook the remaining three pancakes.
To serve: Core and cut each tomato into 9 wedges. Very thinly slice each wedge, leaving attached at one end, then slide open to form a fan. Dip the end of each fan in the sesame seeds to coat. Whisk and check the watercress sauce; if too thick, thin with a bit of the reserved cooking liquid.
Place 1 pancake on each serving plate. Place three pairs a tomato fan and an asparagus tip around each pancake. Place 1 teaspoonful of sour cream small mound of caviar on each pancake. Sprinkle a few chives on the sour cream. Spoon watercress sauce around the pancakes, between the vegetable pairings.