Sim­ply salmon

Salsa-poached fish in green salsa topped with baked chips new twist on a fam­ily favourite

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE -

Salsa-poached fish in green salsa topped with baked chips new twist on a fam­ily favourite.

The French love to cook fish by poach­ing it in a flavoured liq­uid, usu­ally a com­bi­na­tion of white wine and wa­ter, leeks or onions, and some herbs. It’s a no­tably lean way to roll be­cause there’s no fat in­volved. And the fin­ished prod­uct is re­li­ably ten­der be­cause it has been cooked at a low tem­per­a­ture.

So, it’s lean, ten­der and... quite bor­ing. I crave more flavour and tex­ture. So here’s a recipe for poached salmon that adds the miss­ing el­e­ments.

Typ­i­cally, poach­ing calls for a lot of liq­uid. The fish is sup­posed to be sub­merged as it cooks, af­ter which the liq­uid usu­ally is tossed. I wanted a way to poach the fish in a small amount of liq­uid, which then could do dou­ble duty as a sauce. Given that fish gen­er­ally re­quires a spritz of acid to brighten it up, the ideal liq­uid needed to be acidic and in­tensely flavoured. Green salsa - that is, tomatillo salsa with chilies and lime juice - struck me as a likely can­di­date.

The salmon wouldn’t have to swim in a vat of the salsa. I made a mod­est batch and cooked the salmon in a small­ish skil­let with the salsa ris­ing half­way up the sides of the fil­lets. I cov­ered the pan tightly to trap the heat and flipped over the salmon half way through its cook­ing time to make sure it cooked evenly.

How do you know when the salmon is fin­ished cook­ing? If you slide a knife into it and the blade sails through the fil­let with no re­sis­tance, it’s done. And be sure to pull it off the heat when there’s still a tiny bit of re­sis­tance left, which will al­low for car­ry­over cook­ing time.

For crunch, I sprin­kled tor­tilla chips on top; they are salsa’s clas­sic part­ner. But th­ese were my own healthy baked tor­tilla chips, which take only 15 min­utes to pre­pare. On the whole, this recipe is pretty quick and easy to make, but you can stream­line it even fur­ther by pick­ing up green salsa and baked tor­tilla chips at the su­per­mar­ket.

By the way, there were left­overs the se­cond time we tested this win­ner. When we pol­ished them off the next day, we dis­cov­ered that this dish is just as de­li­cious cold as hot.


Start to fin­ish: 40 min­utes Serv­ings: 4 For2 1 1/2 ta­ble­spoon­stea­spoon tea­spoon­the tor­tilla chili ground veg­eta­blestrips: pow­der cumi­noil

Four Kosher 6-inch­salt corn tor­tillas

For8 ounces­the salmon:fresh tomatil­los, husked, rinsed and quar­tered 1/2 cup coarsely chopped scal­lions (white and light green parts) 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1 ta­ble­spoon lime juice 1/2 jalapeno or ser­rano chili, seeds re­moved if de­sired

2 cloves gar­lic, finely chopped

2 ta­ble­spoons veg­etable oil

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion Kosher salt and ground black pep­per 1 1/2 pounds cen­tre-cut salmon fil­let, cut into 4 equal por­tions To make the tor­tilla strips, heat the oven to 400 F. In a small bowl, stir to­gether the oil, chili pow­der and cumin. Brush the oil mix­ture over both sides of each tor­tilla. Us­ing a knife or pizza wheel, cut the tor­tillas into thin strips. Ar­range the strips in a sin­gle layer on a rimmed bak­ing sheet. Bake the strips on the oven’s middle shelf for 6 to 8 min­utes, or un­til crispy. Sprin­kle with salt, let cool com­pletely, then break them up slightly. Set aside. To pre­pare the salsa, in a food pro­ces­sor, com­bine the tomatil­los, scal­lions, cilantro, lime juice, chili and gar­lic. Pulse un­til the in­gredi- ents are al­most smooth with a few small chunks. In a medium skil­let over medium high, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook, stir­ring, un­til soft­ened, about 5 min­utes. Add the tomatillo mix­ture and sim­mer gen­tly, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, for 10 min­utes. If the mix­ture gets too dry, add 1/2 cup of wa­ter. Sea­son with salt and pep­per. Add the salmon to the skil­let, skin sides down, then cover the skil­let tightly and sim­mer gen­tly for 5 min­utes. Turn the salmon over, cover tightly and sim­mer gen­tly un­til the salmon is al­most cooked through, about an­other 5 min­utes. Re­move the pan from the heat and let the salmon stand for 3 min­utes, cov­ered, be­fore serv­ing. To serve, trans­fer a por­tion of salmon to each of 4 plates, then top each with sauce and tor­tilla strips. Nutri­tion in­for­ma­tion per serv­ing: 470 calo­ries; 240 calo­ries from fat (51 per cent of to­tal calo­ries); 27 g fat (3 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 110 mg choles­terol; 370 mg sodium; 18 g car­bo­hy­drate; 3 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 40 g pro­tein.

Editor’s Note: Sara Moul­ton was ex­ec­u­tive chef at Gourmet mag­a­zine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade host­ing sev­eral Food Net­work shows. She cur­rently stars in pub­lic tele­vi­sion’s "Sara’s Week­night Meals" and has writ­ten three cook­books, in­clud­ing "Sara Moul­ton’s Ev­ery­day Fam­ily Din­ners."


Salmon poached in green salsa is easy and fun to make. This dish is just as de­li­cious cold as it is hot.

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