In which I get to relax and enjoy…

So good old Meredith is staying with me for awhile until she closes on her new casa in lovely Salem. She will probably be the one responsible for cooking in her new household, which she is looking forward to with excitement and trepidation. She thought this might be a good opportunity for her to learn how to make some of her favorite things that I have made, so she has a good repertoire when she has her very own brand new kitchen…

One of Meredith’s most favorite things that I have made for her is Seared Salmon with Pea Puree and Lemony Broth. I have no idea where the original inspiration for this recipe came from, but I am sure I didn’t make it up, so if it belongs to you, I apologize. This is a really tasty, easy, quick recipe that doesn’t taste easy or quick. Wednesday night, Meredith wanted to learn how to make it, so she did all the hard work, and I hovered over her shoulder and gave instructions and stirred stuff when I felt like it. It might have been annoying, but she kept it to herself.

You start with salmon. Probably about a 5 or 6 oz piece per person. If the salmon filet is really varied in thickness, I try to get a little bit wider piece and trim the skinny piece on the side off to make kind of a square filet. Aesthetically, I like the square, but if the thickness of the filet doesn’t vary too much, long skinny filets work beautifully. And that is what we ended up with last night.

In the beginning...

In the beginning...

Fairly uniform thickness, good color, beautiful. I do need a new cutting board if I am going to be photographing more salmon, the orange on orange is kind of silly. The other components of this pretty easy dish are a puree of peas that have been cooked with butter, shallots, salt and pepper, and a broth of chicken stock and lemon juice.

The prep for this is really pretty straightforward, although writing about it apparently isn’t, since it has taken me approximately five days to do it. I was totally distracted by all my lounging around and nap taking that I did this weekend. First step, melt butter over medium low heat. Add minced shallot, either one whole regular shallot, or one lobe of those gargantuan multiple lobed shallots that you can sometimes get. I suspect it is actually called a bulb, not a lobe, but lobe is a very funny word to say and write, so I am using my artistic license for this one. While you are mincing shallot, you want to do another one, or the other lobe, to add to the stock/lemon juice mixture. When the shallot is good and melty and soft and delicious, add 2 cups frozen peas to the frying pan, and then season well with salt and pepper.

this may not look like 2 cups of peas, and that is in fact, because it isn't, we undershot the first go round.

this may not look like 2 cups of peas, and that is in fact, because it isn't, we undershot the first go round.

This is delicious and tempting to eat with a spoon on its own. You should have plenty of peas, so go ahead and help yourself to a few spoonfuls.

Next step is the broth. Small saucepan, low heat, butter, softened shallot, one cup of chicken stock, juice from one juicy lemon, simmer until you need it.

Last step is to sear the salmon. The peas should be staying warm in their saucepan, and the broth should be staying warm in its saucepan. Season each filet with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan over med to med-high heat and add a little bit of olive oil, you don’t need much, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Salmon goes in skin side up.

bottoms up...

bottoms up...

The goal is to get a good crust on the outside of the salmon. The salt helps, and leaving the fish alone without touching it (the hard part) for a couple of minutes helps. When the salmon is seared well, it should release fairly easily from the frying pan. If you attempt to turn it over and it is sticking like no one’s business, let it go another minute and check again. You also want to make sure the burner is hot enough, the pan has had long enough to heat up, and you don’t over oil the pan. Once the top is seared well, sprinkle the skin sides with salt and pepper and flip them to let the skin sides cook. Don’t be afraid of salmon skin. When it is cooked well, it is deliciously crispy and adds a good textural component to the filet. As long as it is nice and crispy, I eat away. But if that totally grosses you out, feel free to skin the filets before you cook them, or simply pull the skin away from the cooked filets before you plate them.
sizzle...

sizzle...

When the skin is nice and crispy, pull them out of the pan to rest for a minute while you deal with the peas. A note – if you like your salmon rare or medium rare in the middle, you want the heat under the pan to be higher so they sear quickly without totally cooking through, if you like it cooked through, the heat should be a bit lower. You definitely don’t want it lower than the high side of medium (if that makes any sense) though because otherwise you won’t get a sear at all.

The last step is to puree the peas. Dump the warm pea mixture into a blender, add two tablespoons of heavy cream and then puree to your liking. If you would rather have them with a little bit of texture, puree them less, if you want more of a cream like texture, puree more. Totally up to you. This is what we ended up with last week…

so vibrant! so healthy! so delicious!

so vibrant! so healthy! so delicious!

This will give you plenty of peas for two people. Use a soup spoon to put a spoonful of this on each plate (I actually used pasta bowls because of the broth) and then if you are Meredith, take whatever is left and put that on your plate too, because you are such a big fan of peas. The salmon filet goes on top of that, and then the broth gets spooned around the outside, and voila. This comes together in about 15 minutes and is really tasty, filling but not heavy, and pretty healthy, just a little bit of butter and cream, and everyone knows those things are fantastic for you.

I think it is time for white pasta bowls...

I think it is time for white pasta bowls...

Salmon with Pea Puree and Lemony Broth (serves 2)

2 5 to 6 oz salmon filets with skin

3 tbls butter, divided

1extra large or 2 regular sized shallots, minced and divided

2 cups frozen peas

1 cup chicken stock

1 lemon (will be enough if it is a normal or juicy lemon, if it is very dry, you may need a bit more to get the lemony flavor we are going for)

2 tbls heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste.

Olive oil for cooking salmon

Season the top of each salmon filet well with salt and pepper, and set aside. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add half of the minced shallots and let soften and melt a little, without much browning. Add peas, salt and pepper and let the peas defrost and cook through. At the same time, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in another small saucepan, and add the remaining shallots. After a minute or two, when the shallots are soft, pour in the chicken stock and the juice from the lemon. Let the stock mixture come to a simmer, turn the heat to low, and let it stay until you are ready to plate. Heat at least a 10″ frying pan over medium high heat, take one quick turn around the pan with the olive oil. You want enough to just coat the whole bottom of the pan. When the pan is hot, add the salmon skin side up and sear 3-4 minutes until a nice crust forms. Season the skin side of the salmon and flip the filets, and sear until the skin is crispy and the filets are cooked to your liking, 2-4 minutes depending on the temperature of the pan. When the skin is crispy, remove the filets to a plate and let them rest while you are finishing the peas. Pour the peas into a blender or food processor, and add the cream. Puree to desired consistency. Spoon a heaping spoonful of the peas into the center of a pasta bowl or deep plate. Place the salmon filet on top of the peas, and spoon the lemony broth around the edge. Enjoy!

PS: WordPress is CLEARLY not formatted for food blogs. The words that this spell check doesn’t know are so bizarre, I think I am going to start a tally. Today-shallots. This thing is a freak show.

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