Wine is the most valuable kitchen tool you will ever find. Novice cooks will find that it soothes their anxieties. Those with experience know that alcohol helps you learn knife skills, and they've the scars to prove it. And wine can be the impetus for experimentation and the search for novelty when your ingredient list is nonstandard. Several years ago I had some drinks and catalogued an experiment. That recipe is reproduced here without the prodigious cussing. I make no representations as to the quality of this recipe, although I do recall thinking it was very tasty.
A big slab of wild salmon (mine was 1.89 lbs; I think it was Sockeye)
1/4 an onion, finely sliced*
maybe an ounce or two of dried porcini mushrooms
maybe 1/2 tsp asafoetida. Whatever. Not a lot, since it can taste nasty.
lots of pepper
a reasonable but not gross amount of salt
Some good butter
some olive oil
Step 1. Sip some bourbon.
2. Pick up the biggest hunk of wild salmon you can find in your freezer. Here, I used 1.89 lbs. Defrost that sucker in the sink until you lose patience, somewhere around 1 hour or so. It'll still be hard.
3. Soak the mushrooms in warm but not hot water. Get excited about having them. No, no, no. . . I mean REALLY excited.
4. Spend some time looking into whether mushroom flavored beers taste any good. Have some wine.
5. Find a big sheet of aluminum foil and then grease it up with some softened butter. Be generous, but don't use so much you're going to have fish that's in butter soup later. This does not mean use enough to make the foil shiny. Use enough to make your grandmother proud.**
6. Salt and pepper both sides of that fish nice and good. Take your time. Rub it in. No, no. Not like that. At a medium pace.
7. Sautee the asafoetida in a small amount of olive oil. Or butter. Doesn't matter. Just do it, since asafoetida smells awful until you do this.***
8. Drip asafoetida oil over fish. Put onions on fish. Put mushrooms on fish. Use half of mushroom water on fish. The rest of the water can be used to boil rice or whatever side you are making.
9. Oh yeah, toss a few capers on there. Why not?
10. And maybe squeeze half a lemon on top.
11. You should have preheated the oven to 425 a while ago. But that's ok since the fish didn't defrost fully anyway. You can wait.
12. Wrap the foil around the fish, creating a sort of cocoon. The basic idea here is that you are steaming the fish in the oven, which makes it nice and tender and gives the flavors an opportunity to meld. The thing should be completely wrapped up on all sides. If you didn't get a big enough piece of foil and can't close the cocoon, you're screwed. You might as well just give up now. Didn't you study your French? Don't you know "en papillote" might very well mean "in a bag?" I didn't and don't, but I studied different languages so I get a pass. But not you.
13. Cook the fish until flaky on the top and pink and soft in the middle.
* I'd probably use shallots nowadays. But at the time, I probably was just being cheap. Cheap with an expensive piece of fish, for some reason. Perhaps because of the booze.
** In retrospect, maybe you shouldn't be quite so generous with the butter.
*** Asafoetida is a weird spice. Fiercely pungent, to the point that I keep it sealed behind two bottles and a layer of plastic wrap, it changes dramatically when heated. The flavor is similar to shallots, I suppose. But not really. It gets used in a lot of indian food. If you can find some it is a lot of fun to play around with.