ffwd: salmon with basil tapenade
I do love salmon. After trout, it’s probably my favorite fish. It usually gets the simplest preparation at my house: grilled in the summer, broiled in the winter. In either case, we coat the fish lightly with a spice mix and nothing more. This week’s selection for French Fridays with Dorie, Salmon with Basil Tapenade, adds yet another technique option to the repertoire.
I’m not a very good meal planner. We have a CSA share for the month of July (won at a silent auction). Earlier this week, when I picked up the share, it included a generous amount of fresh basil. I wasn’t thinking ahead to Friday, so I promptly made the entire lot of it into pesto. I didn’t realize that I should have reserved some for this dish. In the end, I just substituted my pesto for the chopped basil, which tasted just fine. For the fish, I cut a one pound fillet of wild coho salmon into three 5-ounce pieces.
The recipe was confusing when it described how to cut pockets in the fish fillets for stuffing with the aromatic tapenade (a blend of tapenade, pesto, and lemon zest and juice). I couldn’t figure out whether it was a one-inch slit that went partially or all the way through the fillet, or whether it was a one-inch slit along the entire edge. Howard and I both read it through multiple times and demonstrated to each other what we thought Dorie meant. In the end, I went with two slits that went from edge-to-edge, on either side of the center bone.
Stuffing the fish with tapenade was incredibly messy, and in my opinion, not worth the trouble. With tapenade sauce topping the cooked fish, I found that gave plenty of flavor and would have been enough.
I liked the cooking method. The fillets are seared in olive oil in a hot skillet on the top side, then the skin side. Then, the skillet of fillets goes into a very hot oven to finish off the cooking. Everything was so hot, I didn’t test as I went, I just used the times in the recipe. The fish was slightly overcooked. Next time, I’ll cut a few minutes off the final roasting step, not that it’s very long to begin with. I had a little trouble flipping the fish. It’s a good thing the sauce is opaque and masked some of the torn flesh. I used a high-sided skillet and suspect that the angle for turning was too sharp to do a perfect job.
I served the salmon with orzo tossed with roasted fennel and some green beans with a dollop of the tapenade sauce (veggies courtesy of CSA mentioned above). It was a delicious meal, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s leftovers!
I’m looking forward to reading about what my fellow FFwD bloggers thought about this week’s recipe. Check out their links under the Leave Your Link post for this recipe at French Fridays with Dorie. We don’t post the recipes, but consider getting your own copy of the book, Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.