A savoury salmon recipe for World Chocolate Day

Next time you’re getting creative in the kitchen, try thinking outside the box – as in the chocolate box.

“Most people associate chocolate with dessert,” says Norman Brownlee (Baking ’94, below), a pastry instructor with NAIT. “There are many more possibilities.”

On July 7, World Chocolate Day, why not try savoury rather than sweet? Surprise dinner guests, Brownlee suggests, with a creative and easy combination: top salmon with a chocolate béarnaise sauce (recipe below).

And, keeping with outside-the-box thinking, Brownlee, gives permission to make chocolate a daily indulgence (one of his favourites being the dark chocolate Manjari from France’s Valrhona).

“A little bit every day is actually good for you, but it needs to be dark chocolate because it has less sugar.”

Atlantic salmon and champagne arugula with chocolate bearnaise sauce (adapted from pastry chef Frederic Bau’s recipe)

NAIT Culinary Arts instructor Norman Brownlee with a surprising and savoury chocolate and salmon dish.

Yield: 4 appetizer portions

Atlantic salmon


4 – 114 g (4 oz) Atlantic salmon
To taste, sea salt and pepper
30 ml (2 tbsp) grape seed oil


  1. Heat grape seed oil in skillet.
  2. Season salmon with salt and pepper and sear to golden brown in hot oil.
  3. Over medium heat cook for three to four minutes per side or until done.

Champagne arugula


170 g (6 oz) arugula
30 ml (2 tbsp) champagne vinegar
60 ml (4 tbsp) grape seed oil
15 ml (1 tbsp) maple syrup
To taste, salt and pepper


  1. Clean arugula.
  2. Combine vinegar, oil, maple syrup and seasoning to form dressing.
  3. Toss arugula with dressing.

Chocolate béarnaise sauce


60 ml (4 tbsp) 72% dark chocolate
60 ml (4 tbsp) whipping cream
30 ml (2 tbsp) finely chopped shallots
60 ml (4 tbsp) Madeira wine (substitute dry port or marsala or dry vermouth)
105 ml (14 tbsp) chicken stock
3 egg yolks


  1. Create a ganache by pouring boiling cream over chopped chocolate.
  2. Stir to combine to smooth consistency.
  3. Sauté shallots in reserved pan from searing salmon.
  4. Add Madeira and chicken stock.
  5. Reduce to 1/3.
  6. Temper in egg yolks.
  7. Fold in chocolate ganache.
  8. Season to taste with sea salt.

Assembly: arrange arugula in centre of plate. Place seared salmon on one corner of arugula. Spoon chocolate béarnaise over salmon. Garnish with fresh chive and cherry tomato.

On working with chocolate

Chocolate is delicious, but it’s finicky to work with. Challenges can include

  • It’s easily burned
  • Can congeal if mixed improperly with other ingredients
  • Be mindful of the flavour of the chocolate and the ingredients as they may not pair well

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