filling the empty nest with food
I thought it was high time I made a recipe from Escoffier that would result in an actual meal, rather than a freezer bag of sauce base to use sometime in the future. Since it’s June and salmon season (well, at least it is in Alaska), this dish of poached salmon resting on crisp lettuce and surrounded by salty capers, olives and anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, fresh radishes, and eaten by dipping each bite in creamy mayonnaise–seemed a summer-perfect dinner.
I will not lie and claim it’s a snap of a dinner to pull together. You will not be surprised by now that it’s not, so be sure to give yourself plenty of hours for cooking and allowing things to cool. Ideally, the day you make this dish, it will rain in the morning while you’re making the court-bouillon and poaching the salmon, then the sun will come out so you can assemble the salad and enjoy your dinner on the porch. Glass of chilled rosé optional but a lovely accompaniment.
Salmon Mayonnaise (Salmon Poached in Court-bouillon with Sauce Mayonnaise) from Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire
To make one liter (enough for 2 salmon filets):
1 liter water
50 ml vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
12 grams course salt
120 grams sliced carrots
100 grams sliced onions
1 sprig thyme
2 small bay leaves
20 grams parsley stalks
4 grams peppercorns
Place all ingredients into a pan except the peppercorns; bring to the boil and simmer gently for approximately one hour. Ten minutes before it is completely cooked, add the peppercorns; pass through a strainer when ready. Let cool completely.
The amount of court-bouillon used should be sufficient to cover the fish in a shallow pan. Cover the fish with cold court-bouillon and bring to the boil rapidly, skim and pull the fish kettle to the side of the stove so as to allow the fish to continue cooking by poaching. (I allowed the court-bouillon to come to the boil and then took the pan off the heat.) Fish which is to be served cold should be allowed to cool thoroughly in the court-bouillon.
Cover the bottom of a salad bowl with lightly seasoned shredded lettuce (I seasoned the lettuce with vinaigrette.) and cover this with flaked cold salmon taking care that there is no skin or bone. Coat with Sauce Mayonnaise and decorate with fillets of anchovy; capers; stoned olives; small quarters or slices of hard-boiled egg; small hearts of lettuce and a border of thin slices of radish etc.
And what the heck does he mean by “etc”?!