Sunday, October 26, 2008

Poached salmon and fennel salad

On Wednesday, S and I made a salmon and fennel and salad for lunch with Hermann in the kitchen at Les Tuillières. We poached the salmon, the best way to cook it according to Hermann, and had great conversation about the poaching liquid, which is officially called court bouillon when it’s for fish and seafood. Hermann started one from scratch (pictured above), but he said that you can reuse the same liquid over and over again, just by straining it and freezing it in between cooking sessions. At some point, maybe by the fourth or fifth time you use it, it becomes richer than the salmon and gives back more flavour than it takes, so the fish always gains. I asked Hermann how long he would keep using it and he said “Jusqu’à je suis mort!” So there you go, we mere mortals may come and go, but our poaching liquids can live on forever.

Poached salmon and fennel salad
serves 4

salmon fillets, fresh or frozen
4 fennel bulbs
1 tsp ground fennel and coriander seeds
juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp Pastis (anise-flavoured liqueur)
salt and pepper
olive oil
cider or white wine vinegar

Poaching liquid

3 1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 Tbsp salt
a few peppercorns
bay leaf, thyme, parsley

Bring the poaching liquid ingredients to the boil and simmer at the barest simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.

Add the salmon and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Wash and trim the fennel bulbs. Cut off the tops but reserve some of the green sprigs for garnish. Cut the fennel bulbs into quarters, remove the core at the bottom and discard. Slice the bulb quarters as thinly as possible.

Place the fennel slices in a bowl and add the lemon juice, fennel and coriander seeds, and Pastis. Mix well.

Break the lukewarm salmon into bite-sized pieces with your fingers and add to the fennel. Add a vinaigrette of vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil, and gently toss.

Boiled potatoes are a nice accompaniment.


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