NAC Recipe: Salmon Baked on a Fig Leaf with Pinot Gris Beurre Blanc

November 16 2009

by Alice Waters
From King Estate’s New American Cuisine Pinot Gris Cookbook

Salmon Baked on a Fig Leaf with Pinot Gris Beurre Blanc

If you don’t have access to fig leaves, you may substitute grape leaves. You won’t get the subtle and delicious tropical scent, but you will get an even, moist texture from steaming the fish in the leaves. This technique works admirably with other firm-fleshed fish, such as halibut or sea bass. Fish wrapped in leaves can also be cooked on a grill.

Serves 4


  • 4 5- to 6-ounce salmon filets
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinot Gris Beurre Blanc (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Wash the fig leaves and put them on your work surface, shiny side up. In a bowl, gently turn the salmon filets with the olive oil, salt and pepper to coat. Put a salmon filet in the middle of each leaf.

Fold the fig leaf over the fish to make a package. Place folded side down on a baking sheet and pour about 1/2 cup water around. Put the baking sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remember, it will continue to cook a bit after you take it from the oven, so be careful not to overcook.

Place each package in the middle of a dinner plate and open the leaves out. Drizzle with Pinot Gris Beurre Blanc.

Pinot Gris Beurre Blanc

  • 1 to 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 to 1/2 tablespoon Pinot Gris
  • 2 teaspoons shallots, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for the reduction, plus 4 ounces chilled unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

Combine the vinegar, wine, shallots, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon butter in a small, heavy, non-reactive saucepan and boil over medium heat until reduced to about 1 tablespoon.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in a few pieces of the chilled butter until they have melted creamily into the reduction. Return the saucepan to a burner and, over very low heat, add the remaining pieces of butter one at a time, whisking constantly. The sauce should be creamy in texture and pale in color. Season with additional salt, pepper and/or lemon juice. Hold the sauce in a warm spot until serving time.

Alice suggests beginning a summer meal with a salad of green beans and beets dressed with a chervil vinaigrette, serving the salmon with roasted or steamed new potatoes, and ending with a peach or nectarine tart.

Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in BerkeleyAlice Waters

Chez Panisse in Berkeley
Alice Waters was born April 28, 1944, in Chatham, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1967 with a degree in French cultural studies. She then trained at Montessori School in London, followed by a seminal year traveling in France.

Alice opened Chez Panisse in August 1971, serving a five-course fixed-price menu that changed daily. The set-menu format remains to this day at the heart of her philosophy: to serve the highest quality products according to the season. A network of farmers and ranchers, sought out and encouraged over two decades, assures Chez Panisse a steady supply of pure, fresh and interesting ingredients. An upstairs café at Chez Panisse opened in 1980 and features an à la carte menu, with an open kitchen and a wood-burning pizza oven. In 1984, Café Fanny, a stand-up café serving breakfast and lunch, opened a few miles from the restaurant

Alice’s vision and dedication have made her the most recognized and influential woman chef working in America. Among her many awards are Best Chef in America and Best Restaurant in America from The James Beard Foundation; the Cook’s Magazine Who’s Who in American Cooking; Les Meilleurs Chefs du Monde in Cuisine et Vins de France; Restaurant and Business Leadership Award from Restaurants & Institutions; and, from the International Women’s Forum, The Woman Who Made a Difference Award. Her board affiliations reflect her passions: the Land Institute, the National Committee of Mothers and Others for Pesticide Limits, Advisors for Public Voice on Food Safety and Health, Advisory Board for the University of California, and many more.

Her publications include: Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook (1982), Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza and Calzone Cookbook (1984), Chez Panisse Desserts (1988), Chez Panisse Cooking by Paul Bertolli, with Alice Waters (1988) and the charming Fanny at Chez Panisse (1992). A new book, Chez Panisse Vegetables, was published by HarperCollins in the spring of 1996.