Oh-là-là, The French film Les Saveurs du Palais is one of my fondest. Watch it in French without subtitles if you can. It tells the true story of a woman (Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch) from a Périgord truffle farm who became the personal chef for the president of the Républic. Her cooking style is what I refer to as"cuisine tendresse"; cooking with heart, soul, and regional terroir instead of straightjacket exactitude sans roots. Madame Mazet-Delpeuch is one of my greatest inspirations as a cook.
One particular dish in the film that bewitched me was Chou Farci au saumon, Cabbage stuffed with Salmon. Normally this dish is made with beef, sausage, or veal, but the film version used Salmon. From the poisonnerie, I purchase moist Salmon, the color hibiscus, a pinkish orange that fills me with hope. I fill a heavy-duty pan with a little duck fat (or oil and butter), saluting the chef's origins. After chopping and dicing some carrots, onions, and garlic, I gather a handful of savory spices and herbs and toss them into the hot pan after the vegetables. Sometimes I add some lemon zest. When the salmon cooks, the room fills with the air of summer.
1 Savoy cabbage
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 celery, chopped
3 salmon filets
1 tablespoon lemon zest, optional
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon tarragon, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
*Hollandaise sauce, optional
Turn oven to 350 F
Fill a large stock pot with water, add a fistful of coarse sea salt, and bring to a boil. While the water comes to a boil, remove the leaves from the cabbage, cutting away the bottom few inches of the base stem. Blanche the cabbage leaves for 7 minutes and gently remove and place on a tea towel to dry.
Dice the onion, carrots, and celery (including celery leaves) finely, and mince the garlic.
Fill the bottom of a heavy-duty pan with a little olive oil and butter. Not too much. Adjust the heat if necessary. When the oil sputters, toss in the minced garlic for one minute, then the vegetables. Stir continuously. After a few minutes, the vegetables will soften. Stir in lemon zest. Place the salmon filets on top of the vegetables and pour the lemon juice on top of the fish) and cover with a lid (or aluminum foil) until the fish is pink and flakes. Set aside to cool ever so slightly. Flake the fish and incorporate it into the vegetables. Stir chopped tarragon into the mixture.
Line a large 9-inch cake pan (I use a Charlotte pan or cream caramel pan) with cabbage leaves, vein side up. Scoop a little vegetable/fish atop of the cabbage leaf layer and level. Layer with more leaves. Repeat until you've used all of your mixture. Line this with another leaf or two, tucking the leaf into the side (like tucking your shirt into pants).
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and invert onto a plate.
*You can serve this atop Hollandaise for that extra-indulgent experience.
Check out my Chou Farci Reel on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CqJv6lyJiWl/