Sheltered in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, “Sunny Sequim” is an intimate bayside, densely agricultural town in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Chef Gabriel Schuenemann’s charming downtown Alder Wood Bistro caters to the farmer and the foodie, with wood-fired plates and regional, organic, and sustainable cuisine. In his original recipe, Schuenemann uses saffron from Phocas Farms in nearby Port Angeles and freshly ground corn from Sequim’s Nash’s Organic Produce but suggests organic store-bought brands if not shopping in the Olympic Peninsula.
For the pairing, the farm-focused and hyper-local Finnriver Farm & Cidery uses the same source of saffron for its Solstice Saffron cider. The semisweet blend of organic heirloom and dessert apples from Washington is delicately steeped in the rare Mediterranean threads for a robust and warmly spiced drink. Not shy on acid, the cider lights up the rich fritters and makes for a scrumptious multicultural snack.
Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Hush Puppies with Saffron-Cider Aioli
Recipe by Chef/Owner Gabriel Schuenemann, Alder Wood Bistro, Sequim, WA
Makes 36–40 hush puppies
For Saffron-Cider Aioli
Pinch of saffron (about 15 stamens)
2 tablespoons Finnriver Farm & Cidery Solstice Saffron cider, or fresh organic lemon juice
1 cup aioli or mayonnaise
For Hush Puppies
1 cup freshly ground cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Piment d’Espelette chili -powder, or cayenne
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon honey
1 small carrot, diced
5 asparagus spears, trimmed and sliced into rounds
½ red onion, diced
5 ounces smoked salmon, flaked or roughly chopped
Additional salt and pepper, for seasoning
Prepare the aioli: In a bowl, crumble the saffron and steep in the cider for 30 minutes, then whisk in the aioli.
Prepare the hush puppies: Fill a small electric fryer or cast-iron skillet about a third of the way up with cooking oil, and heat to 375°F (190°C).
While the oil heats, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, chili powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, honey, carrot, asparagus, and onion. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just mixed, then fold in the salmon. The batter should be thick like cake batter, not runny like pancake batter. If it is too thick, add a little water.
To form the hush puppies, use a small ice cream scoop or two spoons, filling one with the batter and using the other to scrape it into the hot oil. Fry, turning occasionally, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and season immediately with salt and pepper. Break open samples from the first batch to make sure the fritters are cooked through, and adjust the cooking time as needed.
Excerpted from Tasting Cider © 2017 by Sip Publishing. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.