Friday, March 11, 2011

A Salmon Tale....

I love salmon. The lovely pinkish flesh, the delicious buttery taste and that luxurious texture. One of the best bits of the salmon is the tail - often overlooked in favour of the chunkier parts of the fish, it has a delicate marbling of fat through it that makes it moist and super tasty. It rarely has any bones (occasionaly if you buy a super large sized piece you may find one or two, but this isn't common) and it is easy to cook. Salmon tail is also a great way to enjoy this beautiful fish if you are on a budget - salmon steaks can be quite pricey, but with the tail you are not getting bones and it is not as chunky as the rest of the fish. Win!

Apart from tasting amazing, salmon is also incredibly good for you, crammed with Omega 3 oils, high amounts of protein and chock full of vitimin D. Great for your skin, your hair and the rest of you!

Regular Gourmet Goddess readers will remember the fish cooking technique I learned in Paris last year - placing the fish on a bed of herbs or aromatics, to cook the fish gently and infuse it with heaps of flavour. Well, today's recipe uses that same technique, this time with fennel as the star flavour. I know many people are hesitant to use fennel - but it really works beautifully in this dish, imparting a delicate herbaceous character to the salmon that is just gorgeous.

The salmon before it went into the oven -
nestled cosily on a bed of fennel,onions,red onion,parsley and garlic.

I decided to team the salmon with a salad of watercress and pink grapefruit. The peppery nature of the watercress and the sweet tang of the grapefruit is a lovely contrast to the rich, buttery taste of the salmon. I added a very simple poppyseed vinigarette for the dressing.

With the salmon itself, I made a very simple, throw together with one hand behind your back, caper butter. You could easily add garlic or other herbs to this if you wanted to, but it was a weeknight, I was hungry and it was "cooking night" on SBS, so I wanted something fast and easy so I could get my weekly dose of Adriano Zumbo and Anthony Bourdain!

This whole dish took about half an hour to create, so it makes a great midweek meal or stress free dinner party dish. And here it is, in it's pinky, salmon-ish glory.....

And after....succulent salmon and infused with all those great flavours,
served with caper butter, a watercress and pink grapefruit salad and poppyseed dressing.

You will need:
For the salmon - 1 salmon tail, 1 tablespoon chopped continental parsley, 2 cloves sliced garlic, half a red onion cut into thin slices, the green part of 1 fennel bulb cut into slices, salt and pepper, a splash of olive oil.

For the sauce - 1 heaped tablespoon salted butter, 2 teaspoons roughly chopped capers, salt and pepper.

For the salad - 1 bulb fennel sliced finely (white part only - you will use the green part for the roasting of the fish), 1 pink grapfruit cut into segments with the white pith removed, half a red onion sliced finely, a couple of handfulls of watercress (trim the larger tough stalks off so that you are mostly left with the delicate leaves)

For the salad dressing - 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil, 2 teaspoons poppyseeds, 1 teaspoon sugar, pinch of salt, pinch of cayenne pepper, a little black pepper to taste.

First, preheat the oven to 220C. Then, line a baking tray with baking paper.
Combine the parsley, garlic, onion and green part of the fennel and place it on the baking tray in a thick layer the size of the salmon tail.

Check that the salmon does not have any bones by feeling the surface of the flesh - it is unlikely that you will come across any in the tail, but if your fishmonger has given you a large peice, you may occasionally find one or two. Use tweezers to remove any that you find.

Rub the salmon all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay the fish on top of the fennel mixture. Set aside.

Now make the salad dressing - simply whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until it starts to emulsify (you will know this is happening when it has thickened slightly) Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Set aside.

Place the salmon in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the salmon. Watch how it is going so that you do not overcook it - the flesh should yield slightly when you press on it.

While the salmon is cooking, toss together your salad ingredients and arrange on your serving plate, without the dressing.

Now make the caper butter - just combine all of the ingredients in a warm pan until the butter is melted. Set aside.

When the salmon is cooked, take it out of the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Lift the salmon off the bed of fennel and place on your serving dish. Spoon the caper butter over the salmon.

Dress the salad and serve with the fish. Delicious.

Serves 2 for a main course or 4 for an entree.



  1. yum salmon and grapefruit sounds perfect!

  2. Thanks Suze! It is a lovely combo - the richeness of the salmon with that citrus tang is fab!

  3. Very nice salmon recipe, really turned out looking very nice.