Saturday, April 14, 2012

ChezCindy: Spring-time Poached Salmon

Spring-time Poached Salmon

As we transition from Winter's heavier meals of braised meats, perfect for Spring brunches is Poached Salmon with an Herb Vinaigrette. 
This winter I made many braised meats that were all very pleasing and appropriate for the shorter daylight days and colder temperatures.  Meals that make you just want to tuck in and feel comfort in the belly.  With the changing season, now the palette is seeking less heavy foods and the markets are displaying fresh spring ingredients. 

Braising and poaching are similar methods of cooking, basically heating food at a low temperature in a liquid such as water or broth.  The transfer of gentle heat allows for foods to stay moist and produces a soft texture.  Long braising is used for tougher large cuts of meat. While poaching is used for heat sensitive foods such as eggs and fish. 

This poached salmon can be served as a whole side of fish, impressive for a brunch display, or by cutting the fish into smaller pieces.  Cutting the salmon into pieces is easier, especially if you do not have a pan large enough to contain the side of salmon.  The method is the same regardless whether cutting into pieces or not.  The salmon can be served chilled or at room temperature. 

Poached Salmon with Herb Vinaigrette
1 side of Salmon, 1 1/2 - 2 pounds
4 tablespoons of white vinegar
1/2 cup of thinly sliced shallots or white onion
2 carrots, thinly sliced
3 whole cloves garlic
10 whole peppercorns
2 sprigs of tarragon or parsley

Rinse the salmon.  Cut into 4-6 pieces or leave as whole.  Place the salmon in a large, shallow pan and cover with cold water.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Place the pan over medium-high heat to bring to a boil.  Once you reach boiling, immediately reduce the heat to a simmer.  Continue to cook for 3-5 minutes.  Avoid over-cooking.  Remember that the salmon has already been cooking as you are bringing the water temperature to a boil.  Resist the temptation to cook longer than 5 minutes. 

Remove the salmon from the hot liquid with a slotted spoon or spatula.  Allow to cool for several minutes.  When cool enough to touch, I prefer to remove the skin.  It should come off easily by gently pulling up a corner of the skin, and gently scraping back with the edge of a spatula.  Place the salmon onto your serving tray.  Serve with plenty of the Herb Vinaigrette.  This is excellent with fresh cherry tomatoes, steamed red skin potatoes, or blanched green beans. 

Herb Vinaigrette
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil or tarragon, roughly chopped
1 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper

Place all ingredients, except the oil, into a blender or food processor.  Pulse to chop and combine.  With the machine running, slowly stream in the oil to bring together to the consistency of a smooth sauce.  Serve with the poached salmon or fresh steamed vegetables. 

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