A recipe for salmon paired with merlot

Mary writes:

Copper River salmon landed at Sea-Tac three weeks ago. A couple dozen pounds were rushed off to the the fourth annual Copper River Cook-Off between Seattle area’s top chefs.

Salmon, whether from Copper River or other rivers, is dense and rich with flavor, making a perfect pair for a wine that is dense and rich in flavor. Red or white wines pair well with salmon — Chardonnay and Pinot Noir top the list

But for the winning recipe listed below, we’re going with Merlot. Why you ask? Because it’s in the sauce.

We recommend either the Columbia Crest 2010 H3 Merlot, or Gordon Brothers 2009 Merlot. Both wines offer superb quality for under $20 and they were double-gold winners at the recently announced Seattle Wine Awards.

The recipe is from Pat Donahue, executive chef at Anthony’s Restaurants, who won three previous Copper River Cook-Off contests. We’ve included his recipe because it calls for Merlot.

This is the first year Donahue didn’t win, maybe because there wasn’t any wine in the recipe?

Wild Copper River King Alder Planked with Rhubarb Cherry Coulis
Serves 4-6

2 lbs Copper River king filet
Cocoa Ginger Salt – to taste on salmon
3⁄4 cup Rhubarb Cherry Relish – see recipe
1-2 cups Rhubarb Cherry Coulis – see recipe
1⁄4 lb. salted butter – browned in pan
1 cup Beurre Blanc – (optional)
1 each 1⁄2-inch thick by 12-inch long alder plank – (optional)

Soak alder plank for at least one hour before cooking. Cut salmon into serving size pieces (4-6), moisten with olive oil and season with Cocoa Ginger Salt. Grill mark salmon on BBQ then place on the alder plank in a separate pan and bake in a 400 degree oven. Cook until just done, remove salmon from oven at 130 to 140 degree internal temperature.

6 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1⁄4 tsp ginger powder
2 Tbsp dark cocoa powder

(Yield: 2 cups)
1⁄2 lb rhubarb, rough cut
2 Tbsp dark dried cherries
1.5 cups Northwest Merlot
1⁄2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp butter
To taste salt & pepper
1⁄4 oz 85 percent dark chocolate

Wash and trim rhubarb. Roughly cut rhubarb into 1 1⁄2-inch pieces. Place in heavy bottom saucepan with cherries, wine, sugar and butter. Reduce to 2 cups add chocolate and purée with hand blender or mixer until smooth.