A Northern Italian stuffed salmon ‘roast’ that rolls out the flavour.
This “rotolo” is a rolled salmon dish that uses a novel kind of stuffing: a ‘farce.’ Weird word, but in this case it means combining pureed raw salmon with heavy cream and herbs. So, yes, you’re stuffing the salmon with some more salmon, after it has been transformed into a thick, herbed whip. Trust us, it’s delicious.
The salmon ends up like a roast, sliced into 1-inch thick rounds, and presents beautifully on the plate.
What makes this dish is the fresh herbs. It calls for seven different kinds, from chives to rosemary to tarragon. This can be a lot to shell out for at the grocery store, but we recommend springing for it—and as a frugal and resourceful chef you can turn left-over herbs into foil-wrapped herb butter “logs” and refrigerate or freeze for later use with salmon dishes, burgers, corn on the cob, savory muffins, etc.
The real surprise in this dish is the fresh tarragon. I’d never tried cooking salmon with it, and when cooked in the cream-based farce it imparts a striking, unusual flavour that was somehow reminiscent of Indian cuisine— almost a hint of coconut.
This recipe comes to us as a generous exclusive from Chef Lucais Syme of Vancouver’s acclaimed La Quercia restaurant, which specializes in unique takes on Northern Italian cuisine.
Time to Prepare: About 1 hour
2 Sockeye, coho or King salmon fillets, each about 11-12 inches long, skinless (ask your seafood seller/fishmonger to do this for you, or you can follow the instructions below)
1 lemon zest
2 Tbsp each of the following herbs, chopped: tarragon, chives, basil,
flat Italian parsley
1 Tbsp each of chopped rosemary, thyme, and mint
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
Lentils and a green salad
(Or, as in our version in the photo, quinoa and lightly steamed green beans)
For the farce start by cutting off about 4 inches off the tail end of both skinless salmon fillets. (You want to end up with two fillets about 7-8 inches long.) Cut these end portions into small cubes, and put into a food processor with the cream to get a paste. Don’t put the herbs in, because we want those to stay in their chopped form. Add salt and pepper to taste, put the mixture into the bowl and fold in the herbs.
Place one of the salmon sides down on a cutting board, with the now-skinless skin side facing up. Spread the farce mixture thickly over the entire surface of the salmon, like you were spreading cream cheese on half a bagel.
Make a bagel sandwich by placing the other half of the salmon side on top— but, advises Lucais, make sure to fit the puzzle pieces together the right way. As with the first piece, the former “skin” side is pressed down on the farce puree, and place them “tip to tail,” reversed, so the thick part of the top fillet matches up the thin part of the bottom fillet and vice versa.
This makes the shape more even— it will cook better and make the portion sizes consistent.
Start to unroll about 18” of tinfoil, but don’t tear it off: place the salmon at the end of the foil and roll the foil so the salmon turns into a nice, fat, cylinder-shaped roast. Keep tension on the foil and roll the salmon up in the foil like a rug so there are few layers of foil holding it all together.
Once secure, tear the foil off the roll, and twist the ends to further tension the salmon together. Place the roll on a tray and bake in the oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit, for about 25 minutes, turning the roll every 10 minutes.
Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes then carefully unravel, slice into rounds (carefully) with a very sharp knife and drizzle with a good Italian olive oil.