As home chefs are becoming more adventurous, the line between home and restaurant cooking is getting blurrier (read: moms making towers of PB&J on brioche with fireweed honey bruleé). Since I’ve yet to attend culinary school, I can only fantasize that my kitchen resides in the back of a hip restaurant. But if it did, here’s a dish I wouldn’t mind serving. The sweetness of the vegetable puree is a cooling offset to the heat of the curry. When working with small cuts of salmon, be sure not to overcook it.
Total kitchen time: 1 hour
Makes: 4 carefully plated servings
Special equipment: immersion blender or blender, chinois or fine strainer or cheesecloth
- 1 small head cauliflower
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 1 leek (dark green part discarded), diced
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 stalks thyme, placed in a tea bag or bundled together with twine
- 2 lbs. salmon fillet, skin and pin bones removed
- 2 tsp. red curry powder
- 2 tsp. turmeric
- olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
- Preheat your oven (or toaster oven) to 400°F and set the top rack 6-8” from the heating element.
- Cut the cauliflower into small fleurettes (little pieces) and toss with olive oil and salt to coat. Spread onto a lined baking sheet and roast until soft and just slightly browned around the edges, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a high-sided, heavy-bottomed skillet. When it just begins to smoke, add the onion, leek and shallot. Reduce heat to medium and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the white wine, stirring up any browned bits from the bottom. Bring to a boil and cook until the wine is reduced about 2/3rds. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the cream. Add the thyme and simmer about 10 minutes. Remove the thyme and discard.
- Add the roasted cauliflower to the onion mixture. Using an immersion blender (or transferring the whole thing to your blender) blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a fine strainer or cheesecloth, with a bowl placed underneath. Strain all the liquid you can from the mixture, and reserve. The mixture remaining in your strainer should have the consistency of mashed potatoes.
- Using two spoons of the same size, divide the vegetable mixture into 4 parts and shape into quenelles (little round things). Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- Divide the salmon fillet into 4 servings and coat with curry powder, turmeric, sea salt and olive oil. Sear in a hot skillet over high heat, about 2 minutes per side (timing will vary; look for the doneness creeping up the side of the fillet. Some pink is good.
- To serve, spoon the reserved liquid into the bottom of a large bowl or plate, then top with a salmon fillet and a quenelle.
I love the balance of flavors and fresh ingredients in this dish, but even more, I love that it let’s me play chef in my own kitchen.