If this dish is tickling something in the back of your brain, you might remember it from the movie Haute Cuisine (original title Les saveurs du Palais) that came out in 2012. Haute Cuisine is among my top 10 favorite films involving food, and the salmon-stuffed cabbage in one mouth-watering scene continues to inspire me in this very modest home version. Although it has been 5 years since the film hit theaters, I still get goosebumps when actress Catherine Frot sets a wedge of this on top of a pool of champagne sauce.
This is my 3rd attempt at salmon-stuffed cabbage so it’s about time I shared the results and maybe a few tips. It’s a really simple recipe in concept; it’s the layering that requires more patience than anything else. Savoy cabbage is best as it doesn’t turn soggy and translucent like white cabbage during cooking time. The movie’s protagonist uses Scottish salmon and carrots from the Loire, but hey, we’re not cooking for the French president here.
1 large head savoy cabbage
1.5 – 2 pounds salmon fillet
6-8 cups fish broth made from the salmon scraps
Carefully trim and remove 9 outer leaves from cabbage. Trim the thick part of the center rib.
Slice salmon fillet on the diagonal into 3/8-inch (10 mm) thick portions. Season lightly with sea salt.
Blanch cabbage leaves a few at a time for 5 minutes; drain and pat dry.
Assembling the cabbage step-by-step
Before making the stuffed cabbage, bring at least 4 cups of the fish broth to a simmer in a large pot. Have a wooden spoon or dowel ready for use.
1. Line a colander with cheesecloth and place 4 of the largest cabbage leaves around the sides.
2. Arrange the first layer of salmon slices at the bottom.
3. Cover with one cabbage leaf, trimming to fit if necessary. Repeat with 3 more layers of salmon alternating with 2 cabbage leaves.
4. If there’s some salmon left over, by all means keep going, but leave the final layer of salmon exposed as it will be covered by folding over the outer leaves like so.
5. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth around the cabbage and secure with kitchen twine. Tie the ends around a wooden spoon and gently lower into the simmering broth. Add more broth to cover the cabbage (if you run out of broth, use water). Bring back to a gentle simmer and cook for 40 minutes with the cover propped over it.
6. When cooking time is over, remove and allow to drain in colander for 10 minutes. Carefully remove cheesecloth and set the stuffed cabbage, bottom side up, on a cutting board. Slice into 4-6 wedges and serve with steamed carrots.
Tips: try seasoning the salmon with dried dill, and save time by prepping the cabbage leaves the day before. Champagne sauce is supposed to be served with this but I used homemade mayo with a little dijon mustard added to it and thinned with a touch of cream.