Good Eats: Salmon and Mediterranean Rice

When I visited Seattle a couple weeks ago, I had what was quite possibly the most satisfying meal of my life. 94 Stewart is a small, family-run place a block or two north of the Pike Street Market. “It made Food and Wine‘s Best New Wines Lists of 2006,” a saleswoman had told me earlier that afternoon. That was all she knew about the place, but she’d heard good things, so I gave it a shot.

Since I was alone, and because the dining room only seats about 30, I was given a place at the bar, where I was soon greeted by my server, who also happened to be the wine steward. I gave a quick look at the menu (it all looked good), then told her that I would eat and drink whatever she decided to put in front of me. Being that I live in Tennessee and that I was at the time sitting a few yards from one of the most famous fish markets in the world, my only preference, I told her, was for seafood.

“Do you like salmon?”
“I love salmon.”
“Do you drink red wines?”
“I love red wine.”

After a bowl of her mother’s white bean soup — her mother is the head chef — I was brought a plate of sockeye salmon served with rice and a fresh garden salsa. The salmon was local and in-season, perfectly fresh, perfectly cooked. But great salmon is great salmon. What made the meal was the rice and the wine. I was on my third or fourth bite before I recognized the taste of the rice. It was called “jasmine rice,” as I recall, but it tasted like an open bed of dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves. Such a simple but brilliant idea, and it paired perfectly with the fish. The wine was Big Fire, a fruity and acidic pinot noir from the R. Stuart and Co. winery in Oregon.

I’ve been telling people about this meal for weeks now. But until just a few days ago, I’d been unable to track down a local bottle of Big Fire. After finding one, I decided to try to recreate the meal, and I have to say I did a damn fine job of it. Joanna, I’m pleased to announce, agrees. Here’s the recipe:

Garden Salsa

(I can’t remember what they served, exactly, so I improvised a kind of relish that we eat pretty often)

Two roma tomatoes, diced
Half an onion, diced
Half a cucumber, diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Mix it all together, salt to taste, refrigerate. Serves two.

Grilled Salmon

1/2 pound filet of sockeye salmon per person
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Rub salmon with salt and pepper, then grill on low-medium heat for 15 minutes (or until done), brushing with mixture of olive oil and soy sauce every 4-5 minutes.


After looking at 15 or 20 recipes of dolmades, I settled on a modified version of Tyler Florence‘s. I skipped the fennel, but, otherwise, followed exactly his recommended proportions. I also followed the first paragraph of his instructions. In order to serve the dolmades as a rice side dish, replace the last three paragraphs of Florence’s recipe with this:

Prepare the grape leaves by trimming any remaining stems and tearing into small, bite-sized portions. Place the seasoned, al dente rice in a 3+ quart saucepan or stock pot, then add the grape leaves. Pour the remaining cup of broth, remaining olive oil, and the lemon juice into the pot, then simmer for 30 minutes (or until done).

And that, my friend, is good eats.