It’s no wonder salmon is so popular: Its flesh is rich-tasting thanks to high levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
A great way to ensure moist, tender salmon is to poach it. And a vinaigrette packed with fresh herbs offers surprising nutritional value.
Poaching the salmon in just enough liquid to come half an inch up its sides meant we didn’t need much to boost the flavour of the liquid. However, the portion of the salmon that wasn’t submerged needed to be steamed to cook through properly, and the low poaching cooking temperature didn’t create enough steam.
Cutting the water with some wine lowered the boiling point; the alcohol helped to produce more vapour even at the lower temperature. To keep the bottoms of the fillets from overcooking, we placed them on top of lemon slices.
After poaching, we reduced the poaching liquid and added some olive oil and capers for an easy vinaigrette-style sauce. If using wild salmon, which contains less fat than farmed salmon, cook the fillets until they register 120 F (for medium-rare).
POACHED SALMON WITH HERB AND CAPER VINAIGRETTE
Start to finish: 30 minutes
1 lemon, sliced into 1/4 inch-thick rounds, plus lemon wedges for serving
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, stems reserved
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon, stems reserved
2 shallots, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1 (1 1/2 pound) skinless salmon fillet, 1 inch thick
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Arrange lemon slices in single layer over bottom of 12-inch skillet. Scatter parsley stems, tarragon stems, and half of shallots over lemon slices then add wine and water.
Cut salmon crosswise into 4 fillets. Pat dry with paper towels and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Lay salmon fillets, skinned-side down, on top of lemons and herb sprigs. Set pan over high heat and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until centres are still translucent when checked with tip of paring knife and register 125 F (for medium-rare), 10 to 12 minutes.
Transfer salmon, herb sprigs, and lemon slices to paper towel-lined plate, cover with aluminum foil, and let drain while finishing sauce.
Return cooking liquid to medium-7/8high heat and simmer until reduced to 1 tablespoon, 3 to 5 minutes. Combine remaining shallots, minced parsley, minced tarragon, capers, and oil in bowl. Strain reduced cooking liquid through fine-mesh strainer into bowl, whisk to combine, and season with pepper to taste.
Gently transfer drained salmon to individual serving plates, discarding lemon slices and herb stems. Spoon vinaigrette evenly over tops and serve.