Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Poached salmon

Out of the hundreds photographs from the CIA cooking class that I have posted on Facebook, the most popular one is a picture that I made purely as a reference, to illustrate a variation of the classic court bouillon recipe that chef Victor was making for poached salmon, and that was so wonderfully aromatic that I spent every free minute next to the pot (we really need this Aromatography that Kodak announced on the 1st of April!)

Since I could not forget the aroma, and my friends were asking “What’s in this nice looking soup?”, I reproduced it at home as close as I could. There are many versions of a court bouillon.
The idea is to cook aromatic vegetables and spices in water with addition of white wine, vinegar, or lemon juice (I wonder whether it will work with orange). The spent vegetables are then discarded, and you use the strained broth to partially simmer, partially steam small pieces of fish.

This treatment keeps the natural flavor and the delicate texture of fish, with added aroma and acidity from the broth.

For the court bouillion:

1 leek, trimmed, split in halves
3 celery stalks, chopped to fit the pot
1 carrot, chopped into 2-inch pieces
1 parsnip, chopped into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, quartered (to add golden colorto the broth, leave some skin on the onion)
3 lemons, cut in halves
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
1 small bunch of flat parsley
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 bottle white wine
3 quarts water
salt to taste

Put all the ingredients into a stockpot, bring to a boil, simmer gently for 1 hour. Strain, discard the solids. This makes much more broth than needed for the salmon recipe. I freeze the leftover broth in 1 qt. freezer bags or covered plastic containers, for future use.

Poached salmon
serves 2

1 large salmon fillet
1 qt court bouillion
Optional: 1 Tbsp Crème fraiche, 1 tsp minced parsley and chives, for the sauce

Cut the fish fillet into 2 inch pieces.
In a deep sautee pan, bring 1 quart of court bouillion to a slow simmer. Add the fish, cover, and cook at a slow simmer until just done, 5-7 minutes.

Then either serve the fish together with the broth in a soup bowl, or remove the fish and keep it in a warm place while you reduce the broth and make a sauce with crème fraiche or heavy cream and herbs. If you plan to reduce the broth, don’t salt it, or salt very lightly until it’s reduced. It will be impossible to remove the salt from the concentrated broth later.

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