A family favourite pasta dish I make a few times a year.
Make a basic Sauce Béchamel.
I use 1 T clarified butter and 1 T plus a pinch of flour for the roux.
Cool in fridge.
Heat to hot 1 litre of whole milk.
Steam 1/2 bulb fine chopped fennel and 1 fine chopped shallot. Make sure not to use the core.
I don’t sauté them b/c I don’t want to introduce any more butter to the béchamel.
Fine chop 2 T of the fennel fronds to be added to the béchamel just before serving.
Cold roux into hot but not screaming hot large heavy pot. Add 1/2 of the hot milk all at once. Whisk whisk whisk.
Turn down the heat to low. Add the steamed fennel and shallot. Over the next few minutes whisk and watch as the sauce thickens. Add more milk to keep the consistency creamy but not thick. Add the rest of the milk to adjust. Set aside uncovered over very low heat.
Meanwhile cook the pasta to al dente of course. Reserve some pasta water to make a final consistency adjustment to the béchamel.
I sometimes end up adding a 1/2 T cornstarch slurry to make the final adjustment. S&P. A pinch of dried chili flakes.
Just before serving add in about 150 grams of salmon locks scraps coarsely chopped. I get them at the local grocery store which has a great fish section.
If you can’t find them use some coarse chopped smoked salmon.
Stir in the fine chopped fennel fronds and reserve a little for the garnish. Turn up the heat to make sure the sauce is hot.
To plate put the pasta on the plate and ladle over the salmon béchamel sauce.
Don’t mix the pasta and béchamel together before serving or it will look like gloop on a plate.
The sauce ought to be hot. The consistency is very important at this stage. Make sure it’s not too thick. You’re looking for a consistency of light cream. Hot plates.
I always serve a Caesar side salad.
Note I don’t add garlic or any other herds. I'm only looking for the taste of the pasta first then the salmon/fennel/shallot.
Serve with a cool bottle or two of Pinot Gris.
The photo is of the salmon lox before rough chopping.