Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Crispy Salmon on Creamed Leeks

Crispy Salmon on a bed of creamed leeks is one of the simplest, yet most divine combinations that you can come up with.  The crispness of the salmon skin, the fattiness and moistness of the fish, paired with the creaminess and umami of the leeks can only mean one thing....YUMMY!

Leeks are one of those ingredients I feel people pass over in the market, because they just don't know what they are, or think they have had them once or twice, but don't like them.  Leeks are amazing....they have a similar taste to a scallion, without having that bitterness.  It's often described to be between an onion and a cucumber, with a great texture that allows this it to be sautéed, fried, or even eaten raw.  Leeks are notorious for being dirty, so I like to dice it down, and place it in a bowl of water, allowing the heavier debris to fall to the bottom, and the leeks to float to the top.  Sauté the leeks down with a diced shallot, and a garlic clove.  Add a sprig of thyme, and your heavy cream.  Reduce it down by half and season.  Voila!

Salmon is a fish that is very forgiving when being cooked, because of its fattiness, it's difficult to actually dry it out...but some people still do.  A tip to getting that crispy skin comes with the prep.  Salt the skin side and let it sit out on your counter for 10-15 minutes.  If you sear your salmon skin without doing this, it often steams quickly, which will give you a soggy top.  The salt will draw out the moisture from the skin, allowing the proper searing to take place on the skin.  Take a sharp knife and scrape the salt and moisture of the skin.  I then put a paper towel on the skin till I'm ready to cook.  Preheat a pan with some oil and butter till wisps of smoke arise, and place skin side down.  Immediately place something like a small pan on top of your salmon fillet.  This pushes the skin onto the pan allowing the moist exposure to the heat.  Do this for about a minute.  Remove pan, and continue to cook salmon on same side for another 2-3 min.  Turn off heat, and flip salmon over.  The residual heat will cook the salmon through while keeping the skin crisp.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

This is a great dish to impress without having to do more than 15 - 20 minutes of work!  Garnish with a pan sauce of the salmon drippings deglazed with butter and lemon juice, drizzle around the plate with some parsley, and you are set.  Ready, set....eat!


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