Unilaterally poached salmon [need some help too]

Joined Nov 22, 2009
After watching Jen do a unilaterally poached salmon fillet on Top Chef I really wanted to try it, and this is what I came up with. The salmon is slowly poached (with an emphasis on SLOWLY) in stock that covers the bottom of the pan to no more than 1/6 the height of the fillet. The top of the fillet should still be almost raw (and definitely still orange in color) when it is served.

I serve it with a fennel and pear salad, with just a hint of fresh kumquat juice squeezed over it, some thinly sliced, fried mushrooms and a jus made from the liquid left in the pan after the salmon has been cooked, thinned out with a little additional sake and pear cider.

2 parts white onion
1 part celeriac
1 part carrot
mushrooms (shiitake would be amazing, but I didn't have that)
pear cider
white pepper
½ bay leaf

I wanted a nice balance of earthy flavors, sweetness and a little bit of tang, so I made a stock from a mire poix with celeriac, a lot of mushrooms, quite a lot of fresh ginger, sake and some pear cider. The salmon is fatty and robust enough to be able to handle the earthiness of the mushrooms, and the slight tang from the sake cuts through the fat of the fish really nicely, in my opinion.

I let the mire poix (medium diced), mushrooms and spices (just a hint of salt though, since the stock will reduce) cook away in the water for about 30 minutes before I strained it and added the sake and cider to taste. I then let it reduce to about one quarter of its original volume. The stock needs to be strong in flavor, since you will use so little of it. Season it with salt to taste.

The rest of the cooking process is very easy. Let the stock cool down, take a cold pan, put the salmon fillets in it and pour in enough stock to cover the bottom of the pan with a layer about 1/4" thick. Put it over low to medium low heat and wait for the stock to start simmering. Season the salmon with a little bit of salt and white pepper.

Cook on a very low heat, the stock should barely be simmering, until the salmon is coooked about 2/3 to the top of the fillet, then remove it from the pan. Meanwhile you can slice the mushrooms in thin slices, not more than 1/4", and fry them in butter. Season with salt and pepper, and don't be afraid to really cook them; the real umami taste won't be released unless you cook them for a while. Also take the time to make your fennel and pear salad. All it is is fresh fennel and a crisp pear cut julienne, carefully mixed together in a bowl with a few drops of kumquat juice.

When you have removed the salmon from the pan you pour in a little bit of sake and pear cider, whisk and let reduce. Season with salt and pepper to taste, strain it through a chinoise if you want to, and serve.

The thing I need help with is as much about presentation as it is about taste. I'm attending culinary school now, and one of the last things you do is to cook a three-course meal for six guests and the teachers.

I want to make this dish for my starter, and I plan on ending the meal with a dessert of maple suryp and pecan ice cream with a crepe, a zabaoine and a bacon powder - sort of a play on an American breakfast, done dessert style, with the crepe being the pancake, the maple syrup is in the ice cream, the zabaione is the breakfast egg and the bacon, well, it's bacon.

What I want to do is make my meal a culinary journey from East to West, starting with the Japanese-inspired salmon and ending with the American-inspired dessert. But - and here's the problem - I would like to add one more thing to my salmon dish. I want something round and very red to represent the rising sun, the Japanese flag.

The thing is that it of course has to be something that fits in with the rest of the dish and doesn't have too strong of a flavor. I was thinking a jelly of some sort, but I don't know any red fruits or berries that would go with the dish. I also considered using a melon baller to make pear balls that I could poach in red wine, but that wouldn't go well with the dish either.

Perhaps pomegranate juice could work, etiher for poaching pears or for making a jelly?

Any ideas on how I could get the red component into my dish is more than welcome.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Scald, skin and seed some tomato, flatten out the flesh, then cut rounds as the sun for the flag?
Just a thought...the flavour would not be overwhelming. The fruity flavour could marry well with the other fruit flavours.

For myself, I'd do roasted red bell pepper, skinned etc as above, but it may be too strong for the dish. But I'm a heavy flavour freak :)

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