The ingredients to match in round no. 15 of "They go really well together" are cold smoked salmon and dark chocolate, and the round is hosted by Mex Mix. I thought I'd give it a go, and ended up with smoked salmon-goat's cheese-chocolate ganache-tortilla roll-ups/wraps.
I've attended "They go really well together" a few times now, and a description of what this flavour pairing relay is really about is given in the previous posts.
Cold smoked salmon wraps are quite popular starter or hors d'oeuvres in Norway, and is commonly made with spreadable goat's cheese. I thought this simple dish with its rather uncomplicated flavour might serve as a good basis for evaluating the salmon-chocolate combination. I wanted the chocolate to be spreadable and therefore made some ganache.
Some of the salmon here in Norway is made using juniper-flavoured smoke. Even though I could not find any match between smoked salmon and juniper berries on the foodpairing web site, this is an "accepted good combination". So I thought using juniper-flavoured cheese and chocolate might add a nice touch (although juniper berries of course are not equal to juniper smoke).
Basic chocolate ganache:
- 100 g dark chocolate (Odense 55%), chopped
- 100 ml double cream
- dried juniper berries, five chopped
The double cream was heated to the boil, the juniper berries were added and let to infuse for a couple of minutes. Chopped chocolate was added while stirring until fully melted. Left to cool, first in room temperature and then in the fridge for 1-2 hrs.
Smoked salmon-goat's cheese-chocolate ganache-tortilla roll-ups:
- Soft wheat flour tortilla
- Spreadable goat's cheese (chevre would probably work as well)
- Smoked salmon
- Balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
The salmon was sliced thinly and brushed with gin and left in the fridge for 3-4 hrs (this made no noticeable difference, save your gin). Goat's cheese, ganache, salmon slices and rocket was spread on the tortilla. The tortillas were rolled and served with either balsamic vinegar or lemon juice for some acidity.
For cheese, I tried two different flavoured varieties: dill and juniper. Both worked, but I'd say that dill was a notch better, as juniper flavoured cheese together with juniper flavoured ganache and rocked gave a slightly too bitter overall experience.
There was no real crash in this dish. However, the salmon and chocolate didn't go up into a higher unity either. The roll-ups do just as well without the chocolate, and in my opinion this means that the chocolate is redundant. The juniper in the ganache was ok, adding a slight bitterness together with the rocket. The acid (balsamic vinegar or lemon juice on the side) was necessary to balance the flavours.
Two different cheese-to-ganache ratios were tested, depending on the area covered by cheese/ganache on the tortilla. Ca. 60:40 cheese:ganache resulted in the chocolate flavour dominating the cheese (but not the salmon). Using less ganache (ca. 80:20 cheese:choc) resulted in just a hint of chocolate.
By the way...
when first seeing this month's combination, my thoughts went to the wonderful comic character Gaston Lagaffe created by ingenious Belgian André Franquin (in Norway, Gaston goes by the name Viggo). Among Gaston's numerous distinctive features is his inherent need for experimenting with explosives and food, and often you wouldn't notice the difference. His favourite office-made dish is chocolate glazed herring (fresh or as kippers). To most of Gaston's readers, this probably sounds like a horrific combination, and I guess that was Franquin's motive. Such an irony then, that Franquin's countrymen at foodpairing.be now indicate that sardines and cocoa/chocolate might indeed be a good match!
Facsimile from a Norwegian Gaston album. Copyright probably the publisher Semic (Egmont), but believed being covered by fair use.