Saturday, March 1, 2014

Poached Salmon with Two Sauces

I like this photo even though it appears a bit blurry because it gives the feeling of poaching salmon very well. Poaching, like steaming is somewhat of a mysterious form of cooking. Anyway, that's the steam clouding the image and there is no way that I could wait for the steam to clear before taking the picture as the salmon would get seriously overdone. I had to take it off the heat a few minutes ahead of time just to get this picture.  

Poached Salmon is a delightful thing - very clean tasting, very delicate and very easily overcooked.... Poaching salmon is incredibly easy to make and it's so fast too. It just needs a poaching liquid - usually salted water, but you can also use wine, clam broth or chicken broth to enhance the flavor if you want.  It also requires aromatic vegetables - onion, carrot and celery and some herbs - Dill, Tarragon or Thyme or Bay Leaves. Or, you can also use some green onions and sliced ginger if you want to make it Asian style.  Then, you get the poaching broth cooking and then turn it down to low heat and add the salmon for about 5 - 8 minutes - depending on the size of the filets.  That's it!  Then you make a sauce of your choosing - I've included two. I served it with the Mustard Caper Sauce because it is just so beautiful.

You know you are getting the health benefits of Omega 3. In Chinese Medicine, salmon is thought to enhance the blood, improve liver function and give strength to hair, nails and skin.  It's also supposed to enhance fertility. With that kind of nutritional profile, it is a food that should be on your menu often!

Poached Salmon

4 salmon pieces (about 6 ounces each - 1 pound total)
2 cups water (replace 1/2 cup water with white wine - if desired)
1 teaspoon Salt 
1 small Onion, peeled, trimmed and cut into large pieces
1 small Carrot, cut into pieces
1 stalk Celery (with leaves) cut into pieces
Handful of fresh dill leaves (can also use Tarragon or Thyme or Bay Leaves or a slice of ginger and a cut up green onion if desired)
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat water in a straight sided deep frying pan or small stockpot. Add in the salt, onion, carrot, celery and herbs along with the lemon juice. Bring to boiling and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn down heat and add in the salmon, flesh side down and cook on a simmer for 5 minutes for thin filets up to 8 minutes for thicker filets or steaks. Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula and cool while making sauces.

Mustard Caper Sauce

3 Tablespoons Red Onion, minced
3 Tablespoon Butter
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon Mustard (or more to taste)
Squeeze of lemon
1 heaping teaspoon Sugar (or more to taste)
1/4 cup Cream
1 Tablespoon Capers (drained)
Salt to taste

Melt Butter in a frying pan. Add in onion and cook until onion is just wilted. Add in the Cream and cook until reduced and thickened slightly (this doesn't take long). Then add in the mustard, sugar, lemon juice and capers and stir until blended. Season with salt to taste if needed and add extra sugar if desired. Drizzle over Salmon and serve. 

Asian Scallion Sauce

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
4 green onions, ends trimmed, cut into thin slices (reserve 1 teaspoon for garnish)
2 Tablespoons Tamari (or Soy Sauce)
1 Tablespoon Asian Sesame Oil
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
2 teaspoons Mirin
Sesame Seeds

Heat oil in a frying pan.  Add in green onions and cook until just wilted.  Take off heat and add in Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil and Mirin. Remove to a bowl and drizzle over salmon. Garnish with remaining green onion slices and sprinkle with Sesame Seeds.

Five Element Analysis

Poaching is a Watery way of cooking and Salmon is clearly a Water food, so this is a very Watery dish!  However, the aromatics bring in just a bit of everything else - the carrot, celery, onion and herbs bring in the Earth Element, the Wood Element and the Metal Element respectively.  The wine adds in the Fire Element so this dish ends up being a little more balanced than expect.  When you add in the sauces, you can get a lot more Elements at play. The Asian Scallion Sauce is quite a bit more Watery from the Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil, but also gives a good amount of Fire from the Mirin Wine and from Red Pepper Flakes.  The Mustard and Caper Sauce amps up the Wood Element from the pickled capers and lemon and brings in more Metal from the onion, mustard, butter and cream and contributes a bit more Earth from the sugar. So, it's your choice as to which element you'd like to increase. And, poached salmon looks best on a lovely bed of Fiery greens too!

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