I said that salmon would come around, and here it is. Salmon is quite the delicacy all around the world, with its fantastic oily flavour (full of all those good fats) and beautiful pink flesh. Here’s the thing about salmon: it is very easy to make because it already has so many fantastic natural flavours. Look for fillets that don’t have a fishy smell, and whose scales are intact. Light seasoning or sauce is all that you need before a light fry/BBQ/bake, and dinner for royalty is ready. However, the absolute worst, most terrible thing you could possibly do to this angel of the seafood world is overcook the flesh. Overcooking creates a terribly dry, hard to swallow experience that warrants a moment of silence for the lost lovely salmon. Pull it off the heat the SECOND you think its done- it will continue to cook a little bit more in its own juices and you can always cook it a little bit more. When you pull at the flesh with a fork, it should flake easily and the meat will be a pink instead of its former red. I like to keep my middle a little red, because it is just so juicy and scrumptious, but I’m sure that a health warning would tell you otherwise, so your call. Skin on or skin off- I keep skin on if I’m doing a ceder plank salmon (soaking a piece of wood and putting it on the BBQ- the BEST way to have salmon, will have a recipe soon when Sebastien brings some home!) or pan frying it, because I love how the skin keep all the juice in. I also like to eat the skin- it is super rich in flavour, and after seeing it on a sushi menu a few times I’ve decided that its normal and don’t want to turn back. It’s such a rare treat anyways, might as well eat all of it! If you do decide to BBQ to fish, I recommend foil if you don’t have a cedar plank, otherwise you could lose all kinds of precious pieces of fish to the flame. Here’s a simple Dijon recipe with a pan sear, very easy!
Dijon Pan-seared Salmon
1 large salmon fillet (or two medium, three small…you get the picture. Try not to get too small of pieces however, because they will dry out very quickly and require a lot of close attention)
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 clove garlic, minced very fine
2 tsp rosemary
1 Tbsp wine (can substitute a little water)
1) Mix the mustard, garlic, and rosemary in a little dish, set aside. Check the fish for bones- some fillets come boneless and some you have to do it yourself. If the bones are close to the surface of the flesh they are relatively easy to remove, but if you are having a hard time pulling them, they will slip out extremely easily when cooked. Remember that you left them in if you choose to, otherwise you will have a crazy choking hazard!
2) Spread the sauce on the raw fillet. Try to do this at least 20 minutes before cooking time, but don’t worry if you miss the window. Let it rest with the sauce at least 10 minutes.
3) Heat a pan to medium heat. How do you know it’s hot? Drop some water on it- it should sizzle and dance immediately. Place your fillet in, flesh down. Let it cook for about three minutes, then check for a little crust forming from the sauce heating. When you see this, flip. If the flesh still looks very raw (this will depend on the thickness) now is the time to drop that little bit of wine in the pan and throw on a lid to steam. If the flesh looks like its cooking already (this will happen for a very thin fillet), skip that step and just eye it for doneness.
4) Pull of the heat when flesh is just flaking and pink. Check for bones, just in case, and serve!
The other stars of this meal were the vegetables. Not ready to be pushed into the back of the palate, I called on fennel and carrots to capture the attention of the captive audience. Caramelized in a honey sauce, these are salty, sweet, lemon-y goodness in a pan. I served them with a generous handful of fresh basil torn in a nest of “smashed” baby potatoes. To finish, I tossed some delicious goat cheese feta from Saltspring Island over the whole lot- salmon, veggies, potatoes and all. Drizzle with a little reduced balsamic (See: And so it Begins (with bocconcini) blog post for the recipe!).
Caramelized Fennel and Carrots
I would start these veggies first, because they are going to need about 20 minutes to get to their delicious caramelized state.
8 small carrots, cut lengthwise into ½ inch slices
1 fennel bulb, cute into ½ inch rounds
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp tarragon
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1) Heat a pan to medium-hot. Melt the butter, and add the lemon juice, honey, and tarragon. Throw your veggies in when the sauce is melted and mix.
2) Lightly brown the veggies, and then reduce the heat to low. Let the veggies sit and stir occasionally for twenty minutes, letting it caramelize to a sweet, sticky syrup.
3) Stir in the black pepper, pull off the heat, and serve!
This is a neat way to do new potatoes differently when you tire of having them simply with butter.
12 (or so) baby potatoes- roughly the same size for equal cooking time
2 tsp herbes de provence
1 tsp salt
2 tsp milk + 2Tbsp butter
1) Put a pot of water on to boil. When it’s rolling, add the potatoes.
2) Boil until tender enough to put a fork through the potato. Pull off the heat, and strain. Return the potatoes to the pot. Add the milk, butter, salt, and herbes de provence, and grab your potato masher (or just a wooden spoon if you don’t have one). Here is the “smashing” part: mash it up until its partly mashed potatoes, partly whole potatoes. This is nice because you can still see the skins on the new potatoes and have some texture to it, but is nice a creamy from the addition of the milk.