For Chef Nick Novello at Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar on Miner’s Landing at Seattle’s Pier 57, sunshine is all the inspiration he needs to create a seasonal dish worthy of the rays.

“The sun in my face, slight breeze, it’s the PNW summer,” Novello proclaims of his cooking stimulus.

With the surplus of salmon in the Northwest this time of year, plus ample supply of craft alcohol to cook with, the veteran Seattle chef puts a whiskey-and corn-spin on a traditional white wine butter sauce in this recipe.

“Whiskey is going to bring more of an alcohol punch and flavor profile, balancing with the oak of the whiskey,” Novello says of the dish. “It’s a different flavor balancing a dish with whiskey. It takes a stronger position, which is nice with a less advantageous ingredient like fresh corn. Gives it a chance to stand up through the fat of the beurre blanc with a sweet finish.”

The chef selected fellow Seattleite Westland Distillery’s American Oak whiskey for its barrel characteristics in this recipe, and would considering pairing it with the same whiskey but in cocktail form.

“Boulevardier, something light,” he adds. “This will balance the deep oak flavor and allow the relief from the beurre blanc.”

Since Novello took over the kitchen at the popular tourism restaurant late last year, he says he’s brought a “whatever it takes to win” mentality. In this, he’s making local ingredients and purveyors a priority and enticing Emerald City diners to come in and see what the well-known chef is up to in the joint.

“I would expect them to be pleasantly surprised,” Novello says of what diners can expect from an experience at Fishermen’s with his new menu and mindset. “I want Pier 57 to be for the local as well. This should be your favorite spot to show folks the awesome flavors of our great city, ride The Great Wheel, Wings over Washington [both attractions on Pier 57], eat the highest butterfat homemade Ice cream I have ever served… so good.”

Crispy-Skin Salmon with Whiskey-Corn Beurre Blanc

Serves 4

1-2 corn cobbs, corn shaved from cobb
1 cup Westland Distillery American Oak Whiskey
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons chopped shallots, roughly 2 medium-sized shallots
2-3 leaves sages
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter
4 5-ounce salmon filets

Place corn in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the whiskey, salt, garlic, shallot and sage to the pan and cook for 45 minutes. Allow the whiskey to reduce and poach the corn. Once the whiskey has almost dissipated, remove from the heat and allow to cool for 20 minutes.

Place the warm unblended corn into a blender, pulse several times then add in the cold butter. This is called “mounting with butter” as the cold butter cools the sauce while the fat emulsifies the sauce, smoothing to perfection.

Rub skin of salmon with salt on the flesh side. In a cool nonstick pan, pour in canola oil to coat, adding the fish skin-side down and turning the heat to medium. Press the fish on the flesh side while the skin side is on the pan, pushing slightly then releasing, repeat. This will make sure the skin browns evenly. Brown the skin, allowing it the color to creep up the sides of the fish, then flip and put in the oven to finish at 350°F, 325° F for a convection oven.

Slowly heat the whiskey sauce over medium, being careful not to boil. Pour sauce on to each plate and top with salmon. Serve with seasonal veggies.