Much like my series of corn themed posts from earlier in the year, I've decided to do a series on that ubiquitous seafood selection, salmon. Salmon can be a bit boring at times - overcooked on the grill seems to be the go-to method of preparation for people that decide they're going to eat healthier and/or restaurants that decide to offer a healthy item. And while their intentions are noble, their creativity in preparation tends to be a bit lacking. Salmon can be wonderful - very few, if any, other fish are as rich and buttery as salmon and it lends itself well to a variety of cuisines. I know it can be one of my favorite foods - I've never had sushi and not ordered it and a bagel and lox is one of my all time favorite breakfast foods.
Over the next couple of posts, I'm going to try and show off salmon's virtues in a variety of different settings and preparations. I'm going to start with the simplest of preparation methods, raw. So, here's the first in my "salmon series" of posts - Salmon with apple, celery and jalapeño emulsion.
Salmon with apple, celery and jalapeño emulsion
Adapted from On The Line, by Eric Ripert
The Jalapeño Emulsion
½ cup minced jalapeños, seeds removed (about 4 jalapeños)
1 teaspoon minced shallot
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. If your blender isn't top notch and is prone to leave chunks of unblended ingredients, feel free to strain the emulsion through a fine mesh sieve.
½ Granny Smith apple, cut into ¼-inch thick julienne
1 celery stalk, cut into thin half-moons
1 teaspoon celery leaf julienne
1 teaspoon Italian parsley julienne
½ petal Lemon Confit, minced
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and toss with the olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Couple of notes. One, I recommend using a mandoline to slice the celery. And two, I typically keep lemon confit (lemons cured in sugar and salt) in my fridge at all times, and no, I'm not joking when I say that. I neither expect that most people do the same, nor do I expect anyone to make lemon confit just for this recipe. Feel free to omit it, the dish will still be delicious, it will just lack a depth of lemony flavor that the confit provides.
The Salmon and Apple
5 ounces wild salmon, center cut
5 ounces smoked salmon
1 large Granny Smith apple
You're going to want to use the best wild salmon you can get your hands on, and whatever your favorite smoked salmon happens to be. I first tried a mild smoked salmon in fear that a standard smoked salmon would be overpowering, but those fears were misplaced - the standard smoked salmon worked perfectly in the dish.
Slice the salmon into rectangles, each about 2½ inches long and ¼-inch thick. Repeat with the smoked salmon. My smoked salmon came pre-sliced, so i just trimmed the slices to the approximate length of the salmon. Peel the apple, slice it ¼-inch thick and trim to match the salmon.
1 jalapeño sliced very thinly, seeds removed
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
To assemble, place the salmon and apple down the center of the plate, overlapping them slightly. Each serving should have 3 pieces of salmon, 3 pieces of smoked salmon, and 5 pieces of apple. The slices should be placed in the repeating pattern of salmon, apple, smoked salmon, apple. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil (about a tablespoon per plate). Top the salmon and apple with the apple-celery garnish, and scatter a few slices of jalapeño around the plate. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the jalapeño emulsion over the plate and serve immediately.
This dish really, really worked for me and showed off the salmon beautifully. I'm normally not a huge raw celery fan, but it almost disappeared in this dish, or at least blended in such a way that it was there, but I never thought "Oh, I'm eating celery." The jalapeño emulsion and the apple were an insanely good pair. When I tasted the emulsion for seasoning, I already knew - the combination of jalapeño, lemon juice and olive oil somehow tasted like a green apple. It sounds strange, but it's true. If anyone reads this and makes this dish, please post a comment either confirming that the emulsion tastes like a green apple, or at least a denial that confirms I'm insane. Thanks.
Well at any rate, the dish is a real winner and is quite easy to prepare. Enjoy.