Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Irish Poached Salmon with Dill Cream Sauce

     A Saint Patrick's Day Favorite!
     Poached Salmon with Dill Cream Sauce actually is a traditional Irish recipe.  I sold thousands of orders of Salmon with Dill Crème Sauce at French cafés and fine dining restaurants back in the 1980's and 1990's when this was a popular item.  I always wondered about the origins of this recipe.  All that can be said is Salmon with Dill Crème has its origins in Northern Europe, because this entrée is featured in so many cuisines in this region.
     The place that seems to feature this item the most often on menus is Ireland.  An Irish chef was featured on a "Great Chefs Of The World" television program that I watched before starting my shift at an English pub.  The Irish chef prepared Poached Salmon with Dill Cream Sauce.  While cooking the recipe, the chef mentioned that the recipe was indeed Irish and it has beed cooked in ocean side fishing villages for many centuries.  The Irish chef's word was good enough for me, so Ireland gets the nod for being the home of this classic salmon recipe.

     One detail about poached salmon that many chefs overlook is which poaching technique should be used.  The poaching liquid should be a standard Court Bouillon.  A "Hot Start" poaching method allows a minimum of flavor to transfer.  A "Cold Start" poaching method allows the maximum amount of flavor transfer.  If the object is to not weaken the great flavor of the salmon, then use the Hot Start Poaching Method.  If adding flavor to the salmon is desired, then use the Cold Start Poaching Method.  

     Wild caught Atlantic Salmon is best for today's recipe, but it is not easy to find at markets.  Farm raised Atlantic Salmon varies in quality.  Some farm raised salmon is far removed from being organic.  It pays to do some research before purchasing farm raised salmon.  Salmon from the Alaskan fishery is a good sustainable choice, because this highly protected fishery is well managed.
     Some chefs state that salmon should be cooked medium rare, but this poses a health risk.  Fresh salmon can contain parasitic pathogens and histamine toxins.  When cooking salmon of any kind, it has to be fully cooked with a center temperature of 145ºF for 15 seconds.
     The only exception is salmon that is prepared for raw consumption or sushi.  Sushi quality fish is deep frozen at a specific temperature for a specific amount of time, so pathogen threats are eliminated.  There are three specific time duration standards for deep freezing fish that will be used for sushi and they all are effective.  If medium rare salmon is desired, then the grade of salmon has to be USDA certified sushi quality.  

     Court Bouillon: 
     This recipe yields enough court bouillon to poach 1 to 4 salmon filets.  Water can be added if more than 1 filet is poached.  A court bouillon can be used several times, but the rule of thumb is that when the bouillon flavor becomes strong, it is time to start a fresh pot of court bouillon.    
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped onion in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped celery.
     Add 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped carrot.
     Add 6 Italian Parsley stalks.
     Add 1 whole clove of garlic.
     Add 1 tablespoon whole black pepper corns.
     Add sea salt.
     Add 1 large laurel leaf.
     Add 3 cups of water.  (The volume of liquid will be adjusted later in the recipe!)
     Add 1 cup of whitefish fumet.  (clear fish broth)  
     Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Step 2:  Place the pot over medium heat.
     Bring the court bouillon to a gentle boil for 4 minutes.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer for 15 minutes.
     *For cold start poaching, remove the pot from the heat and let the court bouillon cool to room temperature.
     *Fot hot start poaching, leave the pot on the heat.

     Dill Cream Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 cup of sauce or enough for 2 to 3 salmon filets.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring, to form a roux.  (The roux should be glossy looking.)
     Stir till the roux is a white color, with very little hazelnut aroma.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.  (optional)
     Add 1 cup of milk while whisking.
     Add 1/4 cup of cream.
     Stir as the sauce heats and thickens to a very thin consistency.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of finely minced shallot.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin sauce consistency that can glaze a spoon.
     Step 4:  Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  Add milk if the sauce is too thick.
     About five minutes before serving, add 2 1/2 tablespoons of chopped fresh dill weed.
     Stir the sauce and allow the flavors to meld.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
     Salmon Poached in Court Bouillon:
     The Cold Start Poaching Method is used in this recipe.  
     1 to 4 salmon filets can be poached at one time in this amount of court bouillon.  Just add some water if more than 1 salmon is poached, so all the filets are covered with an extra inch of liquid.  The court bouillon will still have plenty of flavor even when diluted.
     Step 1:  Place a 6 to 8 ounce skinned deboned salmon filet in the court bouillon.  (The court bouillon should be at room temperature for Cold Start Poaching.)
     Place the pot over medium.
     Step 2:  Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Cover the pot with a loose fitting lid.
     Simmer and poach the salmon, till it is fully is cooked.  (A 145ºF center temperature for 15 seconds.)
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Irish Poached Salmon with Dill Cream Sauce:
     Step 1:  Use a slotted spatula or skimmer to remove the poached salmon from the court bouillon.
     Place the poached salmon filet on a small pan and brush off any of the court bouillon ingredients that cling to the fish.
     Step 2:  Place the poached salmon on a serving plate.
     Spoon a generous amount of the dill cream sauce over the poached salmon.
     Garnish the plate with a dill sprig and a lemon wedge.
     Serve with a vegetable and potato of your choice.
     *The salmon in the pictures was served with coarse black pepper seasoned buttered purple potatoes, sautéed Italian brown mushroom caps and sautéed thick slices of zucchini. 
     Poached Salmon with Dill Cream Sauce is a Saint Patrick's Day favorite!

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