Today in outlandish claims with little basis in fact, I present to you a timeless food pairing. While I’m no culinary historian, nor do I have an issue of Bon Appétit within reach that I can shamelessly skim for words like “lardo” or “semifreddo” (It’s a-me-a, Mario!) to lend my argument legitimacy, I’m pretty sure smoked salmon and corn first found each other in the eighties. What a heady time to be alive!!—I picture women with double shoulder-padded blazers and capital B bangs eating smoked salmon on a corn blini while also silently stomaching the wage gap. I imagine Cyndi Lauper writing “True Colors” once she realized pink and yellow go so well together. I see Ronald Reagan in the oval office, ignoring AIDS while insisting that Jelly Belly finally manufacture a savory flavor. I cling to my special edition Cabbage Patch Doll, Sally Cornhole, whose favorite food is listed as a smoked salmon & maize omelet.
Well, doll, you ain’t far off. I mean, I am. I’m living in a totally bogus fantasy world, and at the end of all this I still can’t tell you how smoked salmon + corn became such a classic pairing (you got peanut butter in MY chocolate), but it did. And it works. I decided breakfast was the perfect vehicle to display my obsession with this combination. Now smoked salmon isn’t a common ingredient when you come from the sticks, and while that’s not me necessarily, you could definitely describe my home as sticks-adjacent. But you know what is common? CORN! (You probably saw that one coming.) A whole section of our country pictures corn when they think of the midwest. We’re flyover states, but—hey—you can see the corn fields from the plane. Working with this part of the recipe was like coming home . . . and being asked to shuck the corn while Elise cuts the watermelon. So, yes, smoked salmon is the most intimidating part of the recipe, and the hardest part is buying it. Once you’ve purchased it, you literally do nothing else to it but consume it. Think of it as fishy canned frosting or a lunchable. But refined-er.
Therefore I implore you to venture forth and make these benedicts while corn is still in season (I mean, but isn’t it always? Thanks, Monsanto!). You can invite Sally and Cyndi to your tea party. Play your cards right, and maybe Ronny will show too.
Just kidding. He’s dead.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 egg, whisked
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
- 1 cup cooked corn kernels (can be frozen as long as first thawed)
- Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Once mixed, add the egg and butter, and stir until incorporated. Then mix in the buttermilk.
- Fold in the corn kernels and set batter aside until ready to cook.(Can be prepared ahead and kept in an oven set to warm.)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add a small pat of butter, and ladle about ½ of batter on the skillet. Cook on one side for about 1-2 minutes, or until the bubbles that have formed pop. Flip the cake over and cook for another minute. The cakes should be golden brown. Because the batter is a little thick, you may want to press down on the cake to flatten after you flip.
- 5 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup of butter, melted, and skimmed
- 1 teaspoon of caper juice (the briny water capers sit in)
- Salt to taste (caper juice is salty, so be mindful)
- A pinch of cayenne
- ¼ cup of capers, drained
- ¼ cup of cornmeal
- 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- Bring a small saucepan with 2 inches of water to a simmer on the stovetop.
- In a glass bowl, one that fits over the saucepan without touching the water, whisk the egg yolks and the lemon juice together until slightly thickened.
- Separately, melt the butter in a large liquid measuring cup and skim off the white top.
- Place the bowl holding the egg yolks over the simmering water. Do not let the water reach a full boil, so keep the heat at a medium-low during this process.
- Whisk the eggs constantly while over the heat. Whisk for 1-2 minutes, or until the eggs have warmed but are neither hot nor cooked. To be safe, you may remove the bowl from the heat for 10 second intervals while whisking.
- Once the eggs are warm to touch, and they have thinned slightly, slowly add the melted butter in. I like to add about a tablespoon at a time for the first little bit, and then 3 tablespoons as a time. After each addition, whisk the mixture. Again, you can remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in case it gets too hot.
- Once all the butter is added, the mixture should thicken very quickly. Remove from heat once thick. Depending on your preferred consistency, you can add hot water to this to thin.
- After you have removed the hollandaise, add the cayenne and the caper juice. Taste, and if you want to add salt, do so now. Serve immediately, or keep warm by placing the bowl over the hot water (off the heat!) for up to 30 minutes.
- In a small sauté pan, heat a thin layer of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
- In a small bowl, while the oil is heating, toss the capers in the cornmeal until covered. Separate from the cornmeal.
- Cook the capers, stirring occasionally, in the oil until browned and crispy, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from oil and set on a paper towel lined plate. Set aside until ready for serving.
- Poached eggs
- 8 eggs
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- In a large saucepan/pot, bring 4 quarts of water and the vinegar to a boil.
- Stir the water in one direction and add one cracked egg while the water is still moving in a circular direction. Cook the egg for 2-3 minutes if poaching the egg soft. Remove from the water using a slotted spoon, set aside, and continue with the rest of the eggs.
To assemble: Using 4 ounces of smoked salmon that has been portioned into 8 servings, place the smoked salmon on each corn cake. Top with a poached egg, and then spoon the hollandaise over. Garnish with the fried capers and serve immediately.