Sake-Poached Salmon with Avocado-Mango "Salsa"

By • July 14, 2014 10 Comments

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Author Notes: Salmon and avocado make a lovely and nutritious combination with texture, color and flavor. I wanted to use salmon 2 ways: poached, and your choice of either velvety smoked, or salmon jerky with its concentrated flavor. An article by Kenji Lopez-Alt in a special issue of Cook's Illustrated, "Cooking Fresh", for shallow-poached salmon, provided the technique; I subbed sake for white wine. I experimented with lemon slices, as suggested by Kenji, then realized other ingredients could also provide both flavor and insulation. I used a combination of Vidalia onion and lemon slices to flavor the cooking liquid, which could be reduced and used as a seasoning for the dish. On shopping day for the third cooking trial, mangoes caught my eye and seemed a sparkling addition to the preparation. Buckwheat or regular wheat noodles and cucumbers quick-pickled in rice vinegar would be suitable, healthful accompaniments. creamtea

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Serves 4

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 Vidalia onion, halved and 3 slices cut from the center
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1-1/2 pounds fresh salmon fillets, preferably wild-caught, either sockeye or King. cut into 4 portions, the fat trimmed away from the thinner side.
  • 2/3 cup Sake
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced, soaked in salted water for 5 minutes
  • 3/4 packet salmon jerky, moreor less, coarsely crumbled or 2 ounces delicate smoked salmon such as Gaspé, diced, for garnish
  • toasted black sesame seeds for garnish, if desired
  1. Line a dinner plate or platter with several thicknesses of paper towel and set aside.
  2. Trim off ends of lemon and cut four 1/4" slices. Leave about 1/3 of the lemon uncut for juicing later.
  3. In a single layer in bottom of a 12-inch sauté pan, place 3-4 lemon slices. Separate onion slices into rings and add them to the bottom of the pan, creating a "platform" to insulate the fish from the bottom of the pan. Lemon slices can be centered in some of the larger onion rings. Pour in water and sake.
  4. Sprinkle diced shallot over lemon and onion slices. Place fish, skin side down, over lemon and onion slices in a single layer with thinner edge facing center of pan.
  5. Place pan over burner on high flame and bring to rapid simmer; cover, turn heat to low, and simmer 10-14 minutes or until fish is just cooked through. Check after the shorter amount of time and continue cooking, covered, if necessary; do not overcook.
  6. With a flexible spatula, remove fish to paper-towel lined plate to drain; cover with foil.
  7. Remove lemon slices from pan. (Onion slices can remain). Place pan over burner on high flame, bring to a boil, and reduce to about 1/3 cup. Pour through a strainer into a heat-proof bowl, and whisk in mirin, sesame oil and soy sauce. Set aside.
  8. Peel and dice avocado, drizzle with a little Mirin and juice from the reserved part of the lemon, and toss with mango, and sliced shallot,. Add a few spoonfuls of cooking liquid.Add the rice vinegar.
  9. In each of four plates, place a portion of salmon. Spoon some salsa over each salmon portion, drizzle salmon and salsa with more cooking liquid, garnish with either diced smoked salmon or salmon jerkey and toasted sesame seeds if desired, and serve.

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