Until the mid-17th century, the Royal Navy would give its sailors daily rations of brandy. Then they captured Jamaica and switched to the local hooch, rum, which they diluted with water & lemon juice. The citrus prevented scurvy, kept the Brits healthier than the French and Spanish, whose sailors were still knocking back brandy; Britannia soon ruled the world.
With such historical cred, you'd think rum would get more respect. Instead, the Temperance Movement named its bogeyman "Demon Rum" and blamed it for every imaginable evil. Until last night, when it was redeemed by its association with the Sacred Salmon.
Lineup of Cruzan (light, dark, Diamond) and Pyrat (XO, Bin 23) rums
The altar was Elliott's, an appropriately ecumenical fish house (oysters, crab, salmon), where chef Jeremy Anderson officiated at a series of ambitious marriage ceremonies, each uniting salmon with grog.
First there was a rum-kippered Copper River King Salmon, dry-cured and marinated in black strap rum, alder-smoked and paired with Cruzan Single Barrel rum. Superb match of sweet and mellow flavors. Grilled Stikine River White King was plated with a vanilla rum-butter sauce and Cruzan Estate Diamond, a savory (and safe) vanilla-on-vanilla combination.
Then came the most imaginative and successful creation by far: the chef's red curry and dark rum treatment of a Taku River wild salmon. But first, a question: what to drink with curry?
The default answer, beer, works only if you want to douse heat and wash away the spices. Yet curry is a blend of exciting flavors, to be savored, not drowned. The answer is spirits--in this case, Cruzan Estate Dark--whose volatile heat actually emphasizes the complexity of the spices. Also on the plate, providing a sweet and crunchy contrast to the curry, were a slaw of chayote squash, some tropical papaya and a lime-melon salsa.
It was one of those unexpected, wow! moments. This is a dish (like Tom Douglas's original kasu cod 20 years ago) that deserves to become a Seattle classic.
Chef Jeremy Anderson plates up Red Curry salmon.
Anderson (who's been getting a lot of mention in Cornichon lately) is a local lad, a grad of Shorecrest HS who attended WSU and the CIA in New York. As an executive chef in the corporate orbit of Consolidated Restaurants, he's got creative freedom in the kitchen without having to worry about filling seats; that's GM Greg Hinton's job. In this case, Hinton's palate for premium rum provided the challenge, and the kitchen's response merited tots of Pyrat Cask 23 ($240 a bottle) all round.
Elliott's Oyster House, Pier 56, 206-623-4340