, ,

I may never go back to any other way of cooking salmon.

While working my way through Eric Ripert’s recipes and at the suggestion of my similarly food obsessed sister, I gave Ripert’s method of unilaterally cooking salmon a go.  Essentially, the method entails cooking a skinned fillet from one side only.  The result – a “barely” cooked piece of fish that’s both melt-in-the-mouth delicate and flaky.  I think I’d rank this as a new favorite, a mere smidge behind salmon in the raw.

The fish can be accompanied by a number of sauces and/or sides.  It’s so unbelievably soft and buttery in texture that I could have easily devoured it all on its own.  Nonetheless, the first time through, I made a separate soy based sauce that I normally would use for a braise.  The onset of addiction came instantaneously; for a second night, the fillets were accompanied by a simple coconut curry, with skin “chips” made from the saved salmon skin.

On each occasion, the barely cooked salmon was center plated with sauce spooned around.

Unilaterally Cooked Salmon with Wilted Spinach & Soy Ginger Sauce (cooking technique gleaned from Eric Ripert’s “Barely Cooked Salmon with Leeks and Red Wine Cooking Sauce “)

Ingredients: (serves two)

“Barely Cooked” Salmon:

  • 2 salmon fillets, skin off
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 pint (1/2 cup) water

Soy Ginger Sauce:

  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bulb of ginger, skinned and cut into thin strips
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon Kuzu powder
  • 1/4 pint (1/2 cup) water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Wilted Spinach:

  • 1/2 bag of pre-washed spinach leaves

I started the sauce first before preparing the rest of the components for the dish.  In a bowl, combine soy, ginger, vinegar, and sesame seed oil.  Dissolve kuzu powder (cornstarch can be substituted) in 1/4 pint of water and add to the mixture.  Mix well.  In a small saucepan, add olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Place in onions and cook until translucent (5-6 minutes).  Lower heat to medium-low and pour in sauce mixture.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens (2-3 minutes).  Turn heat to the lowest setting and cover.  Reheat just before plating.

For the fish, the technique is unbelievably simple: place about 1/4 pint (1/2 cup) of water into a skillet or saute pan, enough to just cover the bottom.  Season the water with a bit of salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Season the skinned salmon fillets on both sides with salt and pepper and place into the pan.  Keeping the water at a bare simmer, cook the fish until the top of the fillet is just warm to the touch.  The time for this will vary.  My thinner fillets finished in about 5 minutes, while the thicker pieces took about 10 minutes.  Once done, remove the salmon and set aside for plating.

Left: Add enough water to just cover the bottom of a pan. Place salmon fillets in simmering water. Right: Cook fillets until the tops are just warm to the touch.

Using the same pan, pour out most of the remaining water, keeping just a few tablespoons of reserve liquid.  Over medium heat, add spinach leaves.  Cook, constantly turning the leaves over, until the spinach is just wilted (1-2 minutes).  For plating, place salmon fillet atop a bed of spinach and spoon sauce around.

And onto the second round….

Unilaterally Cooked Salmon with Coconut Curry and Salmon Skin “Chips”

Ingredients: (serves two)

“Barely Cooked” Salmon: see above

Coconut Curry:

  • 1 can no sugar added coconut milk
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 bulb of ginger, peeled and cut into very thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • salt to taste

Salmon Skin Chips:

  • skin from the salmon fillet, cleaned and scaled, cut into 1 1/2 cm (~1/2 inch) strips
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Place all ingredients for the coconut curry into a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce temperature and simmer for a few minutes.  Cover and reduce heat to lowest setting.  Reheat just before plating.

Prepare barely cooked salmon as described above.

Since the skin of the salmon contains most of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids, for the curried salmon, I decided to save the skin off the fillet and make skin “chips”!  Thanks to Chica Andaluza’s helpful comment, I can now scale a fish – before skinning the fillet, use a blunt or butter knife to scrape the scales off, going against the grain of the skin under running water.  Works like a champ!

Using either the same skillet once the fillets are cooked and removed (with water emptied and dried off) or separate skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil at medium-high temperature.  Place salmon skin strips, outer skin side down, into the pan and let cook until the skins shrink and crisp up, 4-5 minutes.

To plate, center salmon fillets, spoon curry sauce around, and top with crispy salmon skin.  I added a bit of quinoa alongside the fillet as well.

Hubby voted in favor of the latter recipe slightly ahead of the first.  I voted just the opposite.  Nevertheless, in regards to methodology, I will never go back… never.