Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fresh Salmon in Foil

2 Fresh salmon fillets
2T Butter
2 Lemons
Assorted fresh vegetables
Fresh dill or dried dill weed
Kosher salt
Fresh, ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°

Poaching salmon in aluminum foil pockets is very easy and makes a wonderful presentation.

1. Wash two fresh salmon fillets and pat dry with paper towel.  I like to leave the skin on because it helps the fillets keep their shape and adds a bit more flavor to the salmon.  Make sure, however, that your salmon doesn’t smell “fishy.”  No fresh fish should every smell “fishy.”  If it does, take it back to where you bought it because it’s old.  Salmon should smell like salmon.

2. Place each salmon fillet on a large piece of aluminum foil.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Place a tablespoon of butter cut into little patties across the top of each fillet.  Place three sprigs of fresh dill or sprinkle with ½ to 1 teaspoon of dried dill weed (depending on how much dill you like).  Juice half a lemon on each piece of fish.  Cut the other half of the lemon into slices and arrange on top of the fish.

3.  When you buy your salmon, check out the fresh vegetables.  If there is a farmers’ market open, check out what they’ve got.  The salmon in the pictures is covered with half of a red bell pepper, sliced zucchini, and three or four green onions.  In the past, I’ve used fresh green beans, green peppers, summer squash, new potatoes – whatever was available and looked good.

4.  Wrap the aluminum foil around the fish and vegetables.  Roll the ends up twice.  Fold the top together two or three times to ensure that the whole aluminum foil pocket is sealed – remember, this is going to poach the salmon.

5.  Place on a cookie sheet on the middle rack in a 375° oven for 25-30 minutes.  Twenty-five minutes produces a very nice medium-rare fish.  If you like your salmon rare, cook it for a few minutes less.  Do not cook for longer than 30 minutes.  Cooking longer than that will make the fish tough and very unpleasant.

6.  Remove from the oven and let sit for a minute or two before you unwrap the foil.  Be careful – you have just steamed this fish and the steam will be hot.

7.  Plate the fish with the vegetables on top and on the sides.  The salmon will be pink and juicy – the benefit of poaching.  You can remove the skin before you plate it, but it’s very easy to slide the meat off the skin as you eat it with the vegetables and, leaving the skin on help the fillet maintain its shape on the plate (it’s been my experience that trying to take off the fillet in one piece ends in a disastrous mound of bits of salmon).

8.  The rich, sweet fatty flavor of the salmon is paired best with a light, dry wine.

Tomato Salad

I wanted something light and easy to go with the poached salmon, so I made a tomato salad.

2 Tomatoes
4 Green onions

1.  Cut the tomatoes into wedges.

2. Dice the green onions.

3. Toss in a bowl with a vinaigrette dressing.  You can use one out of a bottle or make your own.

Vinaigrette dressing

Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh, ground black pepper

1. Use the ratio of one part vinegar to three parts olive oil (this recipe assumes ¼ cup vinegar to ¾ cup olive oil).  You can use different types of vinegar like red wine, white wine, sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, etc. depending on what flavor your want (I sometimes use half red wine vinegar and half lime juice).  Likewise, you can use virgin olive oil or, if you want a more fruity flavor, use extra virgin olive oil.  (Do not use corn oil.  I did that once.  We’ll not speak of that again.)

2.  Pour the vinegar into a mixing bowl.  Put a pinch of salt and pepper in the vinegar.

3.  Add either a teaspoon of Dijon mustard or a half teaspoon of mustard flour (ground mustard).  The mustard will help with the emulsification process but, unfortunately, many cooks forget to add this.

4.  Slowly pour the oil into the vinegar as you madly whisk the ingredients together.  If you don’t have a non-slip bowl or an extra pair of hands, place the bowl on a kitchen towel (this will help keep the bowl relatively steady – if the towel is a bit damp from you wiping your hands on it, it will work even better).

5.  After a few minutes the mixture will form a rich, opaque mixture that is notably thicker than the olive oil.  Whisk for a minute longer just to make sure the mixture is good and emulsified.

6.  Taste the mixture.  Depending on what taste you’re going for, you may have to add a teaspoon or so of sugar (Slenda works great if you’re watching your sugar intake).

7.  During the mixing process, you can add all kinds of flavoring ingredients like finely diced garlic or shallots, chopped basil leaves, or smoked paprika – there are many ideas on the internet.

8.  This is also a really good marinade for chicken.

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