For something so relatively simple, there's a seemingly long ingredient list and some prep work. Get everything in place and it all comes together easily. I've always found that shrimp and salmon are a fantastic pair. Add cream and saffron to a shrimp broth and it's heavenly. And fennel. I love fennel. It adds such a great background taste of anise. Some shortcuts: instead of making a spice rub, use whatever commercial rub suits your fancy. Instead of making a shrimp broth and cream sauce, buy some ready made shrimp or lobster bisque. Don't leave out the sherry. And finally, please don't overcook the shrimp and salmon. The shrimp will continue to cook even after such a short hit on the heat. And I like to treat salmon almost like tuna, a bit rare in the middle. —Pete
smoked paprika (such as pimenton)
Sea salt or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
garlic cloves, peeled
large shrimp, preferably with heads on
bulb fennel, with stalks and fronds
green pepper corns (can do without if you can't find any)
For the dry rub: In a small container, combine coriander, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ginger, sea salt, and pepper (and cayenne if using). (Alternately, you can use any commercial dry rub that suits your taste).
Cut stalks from fennel bulb. Remove fronds from stalks and set aside for garnish. Coarsely chop the fennel stalks to obtain ½ cup. Core and thinly slice the fennel bulb to obtain about 1 cup of sliced fennel.
Finely mine two garlic cloves. Cut remaining 2 garlic cloves in half and set aside.
Peel and de-vein the shrimp. Rinse and pat dry the shrimp. Place the shrimp in a bowl and toss with ½ tsp sea salt and the baking soda to evenly coat. Lay on a baking sheet and place in refrigerator for 1 hour.
While shrimps are the fridge, place shrimp shells (and heads if you’ve got them) in a saucepan and add about 4 cups water, the chopped fennel stalk, 1 sprig thyme leaves, 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil (watch for boil-over) and reduce heat to maintain a just below a boil. Cook for 20 minutes. Strain solids, you should have no more than 3 cups broth. Add some water to get to if you're below 2 cups.. Discard solids.
Add 1 tbsp oil to a large saucepan over medium high heat and heat to smoking. Quickly sear both sides of the shrimp, about 1 minute or less each side, they should be golden brown. Do not crowd shrimp. Cook in batches if necessary. Remove the shrimp to a platter. Don’t worry if they’re not fully cooked through. They’ll get finished later.
In the same saucepan over medium-high heat, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and heat until just smoking. Add the sliced fennel and start tossing to coat fennel in oil. As the fennel starts to brown on the edges, add 2 cups shrimp stock and reduce heat to medium. Add the ¼ cup sherry, the remaining thyme, green peppercorns, and chopped garlic and bring to a boil. Add the cream, saffron and citrus zests and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low until thickened slightly, about 4 minutes. Stir in the butter until melted and reduce heat to low to keep hot. Stir occasionally.
Heat broiler to high. Cut each ciabatta roll in half. Brush the cut side of the bread with olive oil and place under broiler, cut side up, until golden and just beginning to brown. Remove from the broiler and while the bread is still hot, lightly rub cut side of each bread slice with the cut sides of the halved garlic. Cut each bread half on the diagonal. Sprinkle with salt and keep warm.
While the sauce is cooking, season the salmon fillets by sprinkling each side of each salmon fillet with the spice mix. Gently rub mix into fish. In a non-stick pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Sear the salmon filets on both sides until just getting a nice golden color. Do not over cook. The center of the fillet should be just barely cooked. (I personally prefer the center to be barely raw). Remove to a platter.
Stir the shrimp (and any collected liquid) into the cream sauce until heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper as needed. If sauce seems too thick, thin with any remaining shrimp stock. Remove remnants of thyme sprig.
To serve, ladle equal amounts of cream sauce and fennel into 4 individual serving bowls (to about ½” deep). Place a salmon fillet into the cream sauce in each bowl. Position equal number of shrimp around salmon in each bowl. Garnish with fennel fronds. Serve with garlic bread.