Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tomatillo Salsa Offers a Fresh Approach to Poaching Salmon

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tomatillo Salsa Offers a Fresh Approach to Poaching Salmon

Article excerpt

The French love to cook fish by poaching it in a flavored liquid, usually a combination of white wine and water, leeks or onions, and some herbs. It's a notably lean way to roll because there's no fat involved. And the finished product is reliably tender because it has been cooked at a low temperature.

So, it's lean, tender and ... quite boring. I crave more flavor and texture. So here's a recipe for poached salmon that adds the missing elements.

Typically, poaching calls for a lot of liquid. The fish is supposed to be submerged as it cooks, after which the liquid usually is tossed. I wanted a way to poach the fish in a small amount of liquid, which then could do double duty as a sauce. Given that fish generally requires a spritz of acid to brighten it up, the ideal liquid needed to be acidic and intensely flavored. Green salsa that is, tomatillo salsa with chilies and lime juice struck me as a likely candidate.

The salmon wouldn't have to swim in a vat of the salsa. I made a modest batch and cooked the salmon in a smallish skillet with the salsa rising halfway up the sides of the fillets. I covered the pan tightly to trap the heat and flipped over the salmon half way through its cooking time to make sure it cooked evenly. How do you know when the salmon is finished cooking? If you slide a knife into it and the blade sails through the fillet with no resistance, it's done. And be sure to pull it off the heat when there's still a tiny bit of resistance left, which will allow for carry-over cooking time.

For crunch, I sprinkled tortilla chips on top; they are salsa's classic partner.

By the way, there were leftovers the second time we tested this winner. When we polished them off the next day, we discovered that this dish is just as delicious cold as hot.

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SALMON POACHED IN GREEN SALSA AND TOPPED WITH BAKED CHIPS

Yield: 4 servings

For the tortilla strips

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon chili powder

teaspoon ground cumin

4 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Kosher salt

For the salmon

8 ounces fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered

cup coarsely chopped scallions (white and light green parts)

1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon lime juice

jalapeno or serrano chili, seeds removed if desired

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

cup finely chopped red onion

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 pounds center-cut salmon fillet, cut into 4 equal portions

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