Fine Cooking (April 2010)
We eat at Indian restaurants fairly frequently. So far, though, we've never seen salmon on the menu. But the next time we're at our favorite Indian place, we just might have to suggest it to the waiter.
We were drawn to this recipe precisely because it sounded so unique -- a very familiar fish with some very unexpected spices. And the idea of poaching fish in olive oil sounded so great to us -- infusing the salmon with a new flavor.
Well, we were one for two. The spices? Delicious! The olive oil poaching? A bust.
Back from our trip, we spent some time searching around on the Internets and found an insightful comment over on Chow.com that suggests straining the oil through a coffee filter to remove any fish bits, then storing it away for the next time you want to poach fish in oil. The reader also points out that since the temperature of the oil never rises above 225 degrees, its taste will remain largely unchanged. If we try this method again, we'll definitely save the oil for reuse.
But here's the thing: For all that oil, we couldn't discern anything all that different about the fish. It was definitely moist, and it wasn't greasy. But we think it would have tasted just as good if we'd poached it in water -- or water and wine -- as we did last fall with a Poached Salmon with Corn and White Wine–Butter Sauce.
So we weren't really into the poaching.
But the spices? Wow! We loved adding the deep, earthy Indian spices to a familiar fish. The garam masala, cumin and coriander give the fish a savory, exotic flavor that works surprisingly well.
We'll definitely use this spice combo on salmon again. But we'll probably try roasting it instead of poaching.
(This photo: Fine Cooking)
1 large clove garlic
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. cumin seed, toasted and ground
1 tsp. coriander seed, toasted and ground
1/4 tsp. cayenne
4 to 6 cups extra-virgin olive oil
Four 3/4- to 1-inch-thick skinless center-cut salmon fillets (6 to 7 oz. each)
4 lemon or lime wedges
Peel and smash the garlic clove and a pinch of salt to a paste, either with a mortar and pestle or by mincing and then mashing it with the side of a chef’s knife. Combine the garlic, garam masala, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and 1 tsp. salt in a small bowl.
Add just enough of the oil to turn the spice mixture into a smooth paste, 1 to 2 tsp. Rub the spice paste all over the salmon and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 225°F. Measure the thickness of the fillets and pour the same depth of oil into a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan. Heat over low heat until the oil reaches 120°F, 2 to 3 minutes. Put the salmon fillets in the oil in a single layer and immediately transfer the pan to the oven. Poach until a few small whitish droplets rise to the surface of the fillet, 25 minutes.
Transfer the salmon to a wire rack to drain for a few minutes. Serve warm with lemon or lime wedges.