In The kitchen

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Olive Oil Poached Salmon with Citrus and Chile

By Chadwick Boyd

Poaching wild salmon in olive oil isn’t as common among home cooks as pan-frying, roasting or sautéing – but it should be. 


It is nearly foolproof – any level of cook can do it, including beginners – and it requires very few ingredients. 


Even better, by poaching in the oven instead of the cooktop, there’s no need for a thermometer and the fish is ready to eat in 20 minutes. Unlike other cooking methods, which can dry salmon out, poaching creates a luscious, moist texture and brings out the distinct natural flavor of the Prince William Sound fish. The addition of fresh citrus brightens up the fish before eating, and the chopped chile peppers add a slight kick without overpowering and being too spicy. 


This is one of those recipes that is easy enough to make for a simple weeknight dinner, but so impressive on the plate it’s a dinner party showstopper.


Serves 4

Ingredients

· 2 lbs. of Prince William Sound sockeye salmon cut into 4 fillets, room temperature

· 1 medium orange

· 4 cloves garlic, peeled, very thinly sliced

· 3 dried red chile peppers, roughly chopped

· 2-2½ cups extra virgin olive oil (depending on the thickness of the salmon)

· 1 blood orange or ruby red grapefruit

· Maldon or other flake salt


Directions

Preheat the oven to 275°F.

Place the salmon fillets skin side down in a 10” cast iron skillet or oven-proof baking dish.


Using a vegetable peeler, peel the outer skin but not the pith of the orange. Scatter the orange peel along with the garlic and three-quarters of the chile flakes over the salmon. Pour the olive oil over the fish until the fillets are just covered.

Carefully place the skillet in the oven on the center rack. Poach for 14 minutes or until the top of the salmon is just opaque.

While the fish is poaching, finish preparing the citrus. Cut off the remaining peel and pith from the orange with a sharp chef’s knife, then slice it into ¼” slices. Cut off the outside peel of the blood orange or grapefruit as well and slice it into ¼” pieces. Set both aside.


When the salmon is ready, remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the fish with tongs or slotted spoon to a medium size platter or four individual plates. Some of the orange peel and garlic chips will remain on the salmon, which is fine.

Arrange half of the reserved citrus slices on top of the fish; store the rest for another purpose. Spoon some of the olive oil from the pan over top. Sprinkle with the remaining red pepper flakes and a few pinches of Maldon salt to finish.

Serve immediately.


COOKS NOTE:

Wild salmon is very lean. Because of this, it often releases a milky white substance called albumin (like egg white) while cooking. This is perfectly normal, and it is harmless to eat. To reduce the amount of albumin, soak the salmon in a brine of 2 cups of water and 1-2 tablespoons of salt for about 10 minutes. This will impart a more salty flavor, so do not add the flake salt at the end. Or, for a more simple and home cook method, use the back edge of a table knife to scrape it off before putting on the plate.


Poaching Tips

· Buy a reasonably-priced, 24-ounce bottle of extra virgin olive oil. This will be enough to poach the fish in and can be used for poaching 3-4 more times before discarding. Strain the oil before putting back in the bottle to ensure the cooking solids are removed.

· The thickness of the salmon fillets may vary each time. Adjust the amount of olive oil needed accordingly.

· By poaching in the oven, there is no need for a thermometer – the oven maintains steady heat. Some ovens run hotter than others. If the oil begins to bubble consistently, reduce the oven temperature slightly.


Entertaining Tips

· Blood oranges are mostly available through June, so ruby red grapefruit is a great alternative. Feel free to switch up whatever citrus is available, such as Cara Cara oranges or Star Ruby grapefruit.

· Flake salt is an easy way to add flavor, texture and style to fish right before serving. In addition to Maldon, try Jacobsen Salt, or other finishing salts like smoked salts.

· Fresh herbs, like Italian parsley or cilantro, add a fresh touch and a pop of color to this dish. Rather than chopping the herbs up finely, shower a few whole leaves over the platter just like arugula or other salad green.



Chadwick Boyd is a food & lifestyle expert, TV host and champion for home cooks. He is the host of “Reel Food with Chadwick Boyd,” a groundbreaking, new food series at the movies nationwide. Chadwick appears on Food Network, the Harry Show, NBC, Fox, PBS and Lifetime, and contributes to Better Homes & Gardens, Food52, Southern Living and more. Follow Chadwick on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @chadwickboyd.