Particularly good with a tipple of Scotch Whisky
As much as I love the Pacific Northwest, Scotland is the place I experience tremendous longing for. While I plot my next visit, I've been enjoying creating a few dishes in ode to the lush rolling hills of green and heather I miss so much. This Salmon with Whisky Cream Sauce and Cheddar Mashed Cauliflower is a perfect tribute to Scotland and it's fine scotch whisky.
Rich salmon is butter-seared in cast-iron until lightly crisp on the outside and tender within, then gets dressed in a Scotch whisky cream sauce that pours over into creamy mashed cauliflower blended with ribbons of cheddar cheese, finishing with a sprinkle of fresh chives. This rich and creamy dish is perfect for special occasions and particularly good with a tipple of good Scotch whisky.
What kind of salmon is best to use?
Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, rich red-orange Sockeye salmon, fat-rippled Chinook/King salmon, and delicate Coho salmon are our locally accessible favorites. It's also common to find Atlantic salmon available at our markets, which is generally all farmed and imported in. The majority of salmon available in Scotland is locally farmed Atlantic salmon.
So what kind of salmon is best to use? In short, I suggest you use what is freshest and accessible wherever you live. Wild-caught salmon tends to yield a better flavor, but sustainably farmed salmon is also a great option that is more widely accessible.
Let's talk about the sauce + the Scotch whisky
It would be fair to say that this dish has both French and Scottish influences. The base of the sauce is similar to that which would be used for Steak Au Poivre, but I've slightly limited the pepper and replaced the brandy with a good Scotch whisky from the Speyside region. We love the Aberlour 12 year Scotch whisky from the town we stayed in on our first visit, so that's what I usually use in the whisky cream sauce, but feel free to experiment with your favorite. I've always wanted to try it with a smoky Islay whisky like Lagavulin, but haven't attempted it, so let me know if you opt to do so!
Swapping the cauliflower for potatoes
If you're more of a mashed potato loyalist than a mashed cauliflower fan, that's okay, because this dish is perfectly lovely with either option. Prepare your mashed potatoes to your preference and don't forget to add the cheddar! Though, if you're following a low-carb diet, the cauliflower is a fantastic swap for higher-carb potatoes.
What tools do I need to make this recipe?
- A cutting board
- A chef's knife
- A large microwave-safe bowl
- A kitchen scale or measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- A food processor
- A rubber spatula
- A cast-iron pan
- A fish spatula
- A wooden spatula or a whisk
Are you looking to upgrade to your cooking tools or replenish your pantry? Check out my kitchen tools shop page and pantry staples shop page to find my must-have kitchen tools, pantry items, and other Whip & Wander favorites.
A note for special diets
This recipe for Salmon with Whisky Cream Sauce and Cheddar Mashed Cauliflower is friendly for low-carb, keto, grain-free, gluten-free, and nightshade-free diets.Print
This Salmon with Whisky Cream Sauce and Cheddar Mashed Cauliflower is a perfect tribute to Scotland and it's fine scotch whisky.
for the salmon:
- 24 oz salmon filet, cut into 4 (6oz) portions
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
for the whisky cream sauce:
- ⅓ cup Scotch whisky (I like Aberlour 12 year or anything from the Speyside region)
- 8 oz (about 1 cup) heavy cream
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
for the cheddar mashed cauliflower:
- 1 large head (about 6 cups) cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 oz (about 4 tbsp) heavy cream, divided
- 6 oz (about 1 ½ cups) sharp white cheddar, shredded
- ½ tsp Kosher salt, plus more to taste
- ¼ tsp of cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
For the salmon:
- Melt butter in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.
- Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper.
- Add salmon fillets, cooking for about 3-5 minutes on each side until the internal temperature has reached 145 degrees F (63 C) and the salmon flesh flakes when tested with a fork. Cast-iron conducts heat really well so if you feel that your salmon is browning too quickly before reaching this internal temperature you can turn the heat down a bit. Remove salmon from the pan with your fish spatula and set to the side.
For the whisky cream sauce:
- Turn heat down to medium-low as the cast iron skillet should be piping hot at this point. Deglaze the pan with the whisky, scraping up any bits of salmon and pepper with your fish spatula as the alcohol cooks down.
- Allow the whisky to reduce by half then add the heavy cream to the pan and stir vigorously with a wooden spatula or a whisk to incorporate.
- Add the butter and Dijon mustard and continue to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken, then remove from heat.
For the cheddar mashed cauliflower:
- In a large, microwave-safe bowl combine chopped cauliflower, butter, and 2 tablespoon of heavy cream.
- Microwave for 6 minutes. Remove from heat, stir, and microwave for an additional 6-7 minutes. The cauliflower should be easily speared with a fork at this point.
- Add cauliflower, the remaining 2 tablespoon of heavy cream, and the shredded cheddar cheese to your food processor. Pulse until well-blended and creamy. If you do not have a food processor, this can be done in a blender or even with a hand mixer, though I find it turns out creamiest in a food processor.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, blending to incorporate.
- Portion the mashed cauliflower onto each plate and layer with a salmon fillet. Spoon whisky cream sauce liberally over the top and garnish each plate with chopped chives.
Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 926
- Sugar: 3 g
- Sodium: 1026 mg
- Fat: 69 g
- Saturated Fat: 38 g
- Carbohydrates: 8 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 58 g
- Cholesterol: 286 mg
Keywords: salmon, whisky cream sauce, cheddar mashed cauliflower, whisky, mashed cauliflower