Wild Salmon With Fennel and Pistachios
Assertively flavorful, lush-textured wild Pacific salmon — notably king, but also sockeye — are seasonal treasures. Unlike farmed Atlantic salmon, which is of a different genus entirely and available year-round, Pacific salmon is a late spring through summer catch. Its richness makes a fairly modest portion satisfying. In this recipe I paired it with fennel, pistachios and lemon. I started the fish fillet in a very hot oven (not quite volcanic, but about as hot as a home oven can get) then immediately cut the temperature down and let the salmon cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. It’s a fail-safe technique that guarantees against overcooking.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 2medium-size fennel bulbs
- 4tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2pounds king salmon fillet, skin on and pin bones removed
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 2tablespoons shelled unsalted pistachios, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
- 3tablespoons lemon juice
- ½cup dry white wine
Step 1Heat oven to 500 degrees. Trim any fronds from the fennel and chop 3 tablespoons of them and set aside. Thinly slice the fennel bulbs, discarding the cores. Select a baking dish or heavy skillet, which can go on top of the stove, to fit the salmon. Place it in the oven, add 1 tablespoon of the butter and when the butter has melted after a minute or so, scatter the fennel bulbs in the pan, turning it with tongs to coat with butter. Return pan to the oven for 10 minutes.
Step 2Place the salmon, skin side down, in the baking dish on top of the fennel, season with salt and pepper and dot with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter. Return the pan to the oven. Reduce the heat to 225 degrees. Let bake 15 minutes for rare, 20 minutes for medium-rare. Turn off oven.
Step 3When the salmon is done, transfer it to an oven-proof serving platter and surround with the cooked fennel. Tent with foil. Place in the turned-off oven with the door slightly ajar to keep warm.
Step 4Place the baking pan on top of the stove on medium-high heat. Add the pistachios and give them a quick stir. Add the lemon juice and wine and bring to a lively simmer. Reduce the liquid to about 1/3 cup. Lower heat and whisk in the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter bit by bit. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, remove the fish and fennel from the oven and spoon the sauce over the fish. Strew the reserved fennel fronds over top and serve.