Salmon with blackberry-honey compote

salmon with blackberries, on a plate with green bean ragout

Since we were having Rosh Hashana on the road, I wanted to cook a themed dinner in our rental cottage. And since we were on Orcas Island, it was gonna involve fish: king salmon, given the season. It helps that fish is a traditional Rosh Hashana food, although you're supposed to have the head on, which would have been a very large meal, so we skipped that part. The king salmon coming in at the market weighed 10lbs or more.

The other thing that was in season -- in fact, growing directly outside the cottage -- was blackberries. So those supply the "seasonal fruit" part of the Yom Tov menu, plus we have apples in the form of cider. I added some rosemary (also growing outside the cottage), and the required new year's honey.

The salmon can be cooked any way you like for this. I broiled it (detailed below), but you could just as easily use it grilled or pan-seared. I probably wouldn't use a different fish, though, as the blackberry sauce is strong-flavored and needs a robust fish to match. Also, no poaching.

salmon with blackberry-honey compote


  • 1 to 1.5 pints blackberries
  • 5-6 tbs salted butter
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped fine, around 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup hard cider
  • 2 tbs good honey
  • salt to taste


  • 1 to 1.5lbs skin-on salmon filet, portioned
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil

Heat a small pot (1-2 qt) on the stovetop. Melt 2 tbs of the butter in the bottom, followed by the chopped onion. Saute over medium heat until the onion is completely transparent and soft. Add the rosemary leaves and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Add the blackberries, turn the heat down to low, and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes, until the blackberries just start to fall apart.

While the berries are cooking, heat the oven to 250F and place a baking rack 4" from the flame/element if you're planning on broiling the salmon.

When the blackberries are just starting to disintegrate, pour in the cider and the honey, turn up the heat a bit, and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and put a lid on to hold while you prepare the salmon.

If you're broiling the salmon, line a baking sheet with foil. Lightly oil the center of the foil with olive oil. Pat the salmon dry on both sides with paper towels, then lightly salt and pepper it, and place it skin-side-down in the middle of the foil. If this is a lean salmon like coho, also rub some olive oil or melted butter into the flesh. Turn on the oven broiler and place the salmon under the broiler. Cook for 6 to 12 minutes, depending on the heat of your broiler and the thickness of the salmon. If the salmon begins to brown on top before the skin side is done, move it to the center of the oven and drop the temperature to 300F (or just turn off the broiler, depending on your oven).

If you're cooking the salmon another way, well, that's up to you.

Now, just before serving the salmon, finish your sauce. Reheat it slightly if it's gone lukewarm, but do not boil it. Turn off the heat and mix in 3-4 tbs of butter, stirring until it's melted, to thicken the sauce. Taste and add salt if necessary; the sauce should be sweet-savory.

Plate a portion for each diner and ladle some sauce on top. Serve with challah to mop up the excess sauce.