08 January 2010

Pan Simmered Salmon in Roasted Red Pepper Sauce


Poaching?

What is it with poaching? The word itself sounds grim. It conjures up images of crazy free form egg whites gone wild. It suggests bland flavors and textures. By it’s second definition in Webster's dictionary it is even illegal.

Until a few years ago poaching was the last thing I wanted to do to any food I planned to eat. It seemed to me that there was no reason to go there, that there must be a better alternative no matter what the cooking objective might be. As it turns out, I was wrong.

Last year I discovered Poached Pears. It was the way they looked that got my attention. A poached pear can be a thing of beauty. Infused with wine, drenched in chocolate, or dressed with red fruit and ginger, Poached Pears are not only gorgeous but delicately soft and delicious too.

....By Any Other Name

Okay, so Poached Pears are luscious but that’s an exception, right? No, wrong again. I have also discovered that poached fish can be extraordinary.

It was my sister-in-law who introduced me to Poached Salmon. I was a little skeptical but she was cooking and I was hungry. Curious, I watched as she settled the salmon fillet in the poaching liquid and left it to simmer while she blended the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. It looked simple enough and not at all wild or illegal.

The trick, it seems, is in the poaching liquid and in finding the right piece of fish, one that is fresh and flavorful. Lace the poaching water with a decent white wine. Infuse it with onion as well as herbs and spices. Then carefully simmer the fish in the liquid until just done.

Served with the beautifully flavorful red pepper sauce this poached salmon becomes an elegant indulgence. Subtly flavored by the cooking liquid, the soft smokey taste of the fish is perfectly balanced with the rich depth and delicate sweetness of the freshly roasted peppers. So why not give it a more elegant name? Maybe Herbed Wine Infused Salmon or Pan Simmered Salmon in Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.

For All Seasons

This entrée is seasonless. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins C and A, it is as welcome in January when we are focused on healthy eating as it is the summer when we crave light dinners on the patio. The color is so dazzling, served with Walnut Pesto drenched pasta and crisp-tender petite green beans it made a festive and delicious Christmas Eve dinner for my family this season. Now, looking just a little bit ahead, it would also be the perfect main course for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.


Pan Simmered (Poached) Salmon

2 pounds fresh salmon fillets
2 cups water
1½ cup white wine
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon peppercorns
several sprigs of herbs (thyme, parsley, basil and/or oregano, or others)
1 onion, coarsely chopped

Heat water to a boil in a wide covered saucepan (I use my Calphalon 12-inch Everyday Pan but a covered skillet with a domed lid or a 4 quart saucepan will work as well).

Add wine, peppercorns, bay leaves, herbs and onion. Bring back to a boil then turn down the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes or so to infuse the poaching liquid and blend the flavors.

Add the salmon to the poaching liquid. Cover and simmer until fish flakes when pierced with a fork. (Cooking time will depend on the size and texture of the fillet. One piece took 3 minutes, the other 7 minutes.)

Remove salmon from liquid and place on a serving platter.

Serve with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
from Great Recipes for Good Health published by Reader's Digest 1988

2 medium sized sweet red peppers
2 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of olive oil

Wrap the garlic cloves tightly in a small piece of aluminum foil. Place them on a lower rack in the oven to roast while the red peppers are roasting on the top rack.

Roast the red peppers by setting a pan six inches from the heat under the broiler. Turn the red peppers occasionally until they are charred on all sides. This takes about 5-8 minutes.

Place the charred peppers in a brown paper bag. Close the bag tightly and set it in a bowl. (Once the peppers have steamed for a short while the skin will peel away easily.)

Check the garlic to see if it is done. It should be soft and gooey. If not leave it in the oven a little longer.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel away the charred skin over the bowl to catch any juice. Discard the skin, stems and seeds.

In a blender or food processor, puree the peppers and their juice with the garlic. Add the vinegar and olive oil. Add salt to taste, if desired.

Serve and Enjoy!

11 comments:

Cindy Marsch said...

Being thrifty, I'm always wary of recipes that use things like 12 ounces of white wine that won't actually be consumed. Could you make me feel better about it by assuring me that the poaching liquid could be saved or reduced and saved (after straining out the peppercorn and such) for soup later? :-)

noble pig said...

I love the idea of the pepper sauce on salmon. Very nice!

Lisa said...

Cindy - Good point! I think you could reduce and save the strained poaching liquid for making soup, perhaps Cioppino. I have also seen recipes that use less wine in the poaching liquid, filling a pan with an inch or so of water and adding as little as ½ cup of wine. Or you could use broth or other herbs and spices for more flavoring.

I suppose it depends on how you use wine. I often use leftover wine in recipes, and so feel I am being at least somewhat thrifty by not letting an unfinished bottle go to waste. Still, better yet to extend the use of that leftover wine as you suggest.

Thanks for your comment!

Noble Pig - Thanks! The Roasted Red Pepper Sauce is simple and soooo good. It is much more than the sum of its parts.

Alanna said...

So funny! Flying through RSS feeds, I stopped short when I saw the title and then the photo -- and THEN I realized it was yours! I can't tell you how many times that happens, Lisa. No wonder my recipe box (and now my Delicious folder) is packed with your recipes. This one looks especially enticing -- everyone I know is cooking fish except ME.

Alanna said...

OH - and another thing, for Cindy and others. First, I'd hesitate before re-using the stock unless using it RIGHT AWAY, say, to make a sauce for the fish. Any time left to sit, well, not likely good.

BUT - the trick the is to skip the white wine and to use something that's shelf stable. In my case, it's vermouth.

Pam said...

I have never poached anything but pears. Time to get busy!

scmom (Barbara) said...

Looks so yummy and salmon is so good for you. It's too bad the good wild salmon is so expensive -- especially in central Ohio! But, what a treat -- saving this recipe.

grace said...

i've never seen poached salmon--the name does make one think that the fish was obtained illegally! i'm in love with that sauce, lisa--it'd be perfect for any number of meats!

Bellini Valli said...

We had salmon on Christmas Eve as well. I love the poached method with a delicious sauce to compliment the flavour.

Katherine Aucoin said...

This dish is so top shelf Lisa! i epsecially cant wait for the weather to warm up a bit and try this on the grill! Fabulous!

Cindy said...

I never would have thought to put a pepper sauce on salmon, but it sounds heavenly. Whenever my husband is out of town or working late, my daughter and I cook up salmon for ourselves (he hates anything from the sea). I'm going to try this one.