##For my home cooking this month, I have felt the urge for an omega dose and so have adapted this recipe from one of my favourite chefs, Thomas Keller, and his book Bouchon. Thomas Keller is the genius behind ‘The French Laundry’ in California and ‘Bouchon’ is the French Bistro he opened in New York.
The inherent beauty of bistro cooking is it is exquisitely prepared, simple food, no fuss, plain and more importantly delicious. Buerre blanc is essentially a sauce made by emulsifying butter with vinegar…and it will carry an oily fish like salmon all the way home. The subtleties of this dish, which is so perfectly balanced, will take you to heaven and beyond…promise!
Salmon with Leeks and Beurre Blanc
1 fillet of Atlantic salmon, skinned and pin-boned.
2-3 leeks 1 small red onion
2 sprigs of tarragon
2 bay leaves
6-8 whole peppercorns
3-4 tbsps champagne or white wine vinegar
250gms butter, cut into cubes extra butter and olive oil for the fish.
If you are serving this as a starter, allow about a 1 inch slice from the salmon fillet per person, and buy a large enough portion of salmon to accommodate your number of guests. If you would prefer to serve this as a main, then allow each person approximately a 2 inch slice each. Vary these amounts accordingly to individual appetites. Ask your fishmonger to skin and pin-bone the fillet before you slice it into serving sizes.
Rinse the dirt from the leeks and slice the pale green parts (keep the white tips for another use in stock), into discs about 1cm wide. Carefully blanch these in a pot of boiling salted water for 15-20 seconds and then plunge into an ice bath to halt the cooking process. Lay the leeks out on paper towel to drain. For the buerre blanc; thinly slice the red onion and place it in a small saucepan over medium heat along with the tarragon, bay leaves, peppercorns, and vinegar. Bring this to the boil and keep it simmering gently until it has reduced to about a tablespoon-full. Once it has reduced, pour in the cream and allow this to bubble and boil and reduce a little as well, so keep it simmering for about 5 minutes or so.
Once the cream has reduced, take the saucepan off the heat and keeping it in a warm place. Slowly, whisk in the butter a cube at a time. You can add each cube just before the previous one has fully dissolved and, after you have incorporated all the butter, you will have a wonderfully rich & velvety sauce. Set this aside in a warm place while you cook the fish. Slice your salmon fillet into portions of desired size and sprinkle the top of each liberally with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a high-sided fry pan that is large enough to hold all the salmon in one single layer, put a good spoonful of butter and a glug of olive oil. I know this sounds like a lot, but it will give the skin side of the salmon a lovely crispy finish… it is important to note here that you will not turn this over.
Once the butter and oil are bubbling and hot, carefully slide in each piece of salmon and cook them over medium heat for 5-6 minutes. This is the perfect way to have varying degrees of doneness. The fish will be crispy underneath, well done at the bottom, medium in the middle and rare on the top – beautiful!
While the salmon is cooking, strain the beurre blanc into a pouring jug, discarding the herbs and onion. Onto warmed plates, pour some of the sauce so it covers the centre of the plate. Next, place 4-5 discs of leeks in a row on the sauce. Then, using a fish slice or something similar, delicately place a piece of fish onto the top of the leeks. Serve immediately with your favourite white wine or red if you prefer.