Some time last week I noticed a cookbook at a friend’s house. One I was sure of not to have in my collection yet – Oliver would probably laugh out loud at this point, asking ‘You sure?!? Moving at the speed of lightning my hands reached out and had secured it in no time. Moments later I was skimming through the content, highly intrigued by a recipe for salmon mi cuit. Hm, although it had crossed my mind, I couldn’t just hide it under my shirt and sneak out the back door, so I took a few notes, hoping that these would be sufficient.
Back home with only a few notes and what I could remember off the top of my head I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. I had a lengthy debate with myself about the sides (yellow zucchini, wild rocket, basil oil potato puree etc. – what would go nicely with it and what wouldn’t), long story short the result completely wow ‘ed me.
The method used to cook the salmon in some way reminded me of Clement’s sous vide approach, using a vacuum sealed container and low temperature. This recipe actually calls for an even lower temperature, however in connection with a longer “cooking” time. The low temperature purportedly avoids the protein in the fish to set and thus ensures the flesh to remain soft (incredibly soft!). Hardened protein is what makes the fish tough.
The infused cooking oil for the salmon as well as the basil oil for the potato puree should be done in advance, up to a day if the schedule permits.
prep Infused cooking oil: add all ingredients (corn & olive oil, scraped out vanilla bean & seeds, peppercorns, bay leaves) in a pot and heat slowly to about 50 to 60°C (140-160°F). Keep it on the stove for 30 to 40 minutes, then remove and let cool down to room temperature.
prep Basil oil: Using a food processor, simply liquidize parsley and basil with the olive oil. Strain mixture through a fine sieve. Avoid pushing it through, as this would promote more particles to enter the oil and make it more turbid. To get an extra clear oil, use a fine kitchen cloth to strain it again, but in lack of time (and a clean cloth) I went for the little less pure oil this time. In any case it should have a strong basil flavor.
For the basil oil potato puree, cook potatoes for about 15 min. – the exact duration depends on the size of the potatoes of course, basically until they are soft, then peel. Mash potatoes, beat in butter and milk to desired texture. Almost any cookbook tells you NOT to use a handheld mixer or your puree would get gooey. Ha! BS! It might get gooey, if you use your mixer for several minutes, but if you use it for let’s say about 20 seconds, it will be perfectly smooth – never heard the slightest complaint! Finally add salt and strained basil oil to taste (start with about 2-3 tbsp).
Heat the cooking oil for the salmon fillets to 35-40°C (95-104°F). Easier said then done ;) I checked the temperature with an older meat thermometer – worked out pretty good, even though I wasn’t sure, whether or not to trust this old fossil gadget. Once the cooking oil is at the required temperature, lay the salmon pieces in a casserole dish and pour the oil with its content over them and keep in the oven for about 40 minutes at about 40°C (104°F). Once ready, the flesh will still be light pink/orange, but it’ll be perfectly half-cooked. Mi cuit!
Just before you take out the salmon, heat up a table spoon of olive oil in a little skillet. Add the finely diced yellow zucchini and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add a pinch of salt.
Now carefully place salmon fillets on a bed of wild rocket, which has been washed, cleaned and dressed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the basil potato puree as well as the zucchini cubes and drizzle additional basil oil over the potato puree.
Resume: A little time consuming due to some unusual steps, yet so rewarding – simply because of its taste and consistency. The next time (there will definitely be a next time!), I’d use even more spices (especially pepper and vanilla) to enhance the nuances of the infused oil. The structure of the salmon was unlike any salmon I have ever eaten before, soft, juicy, light and so colorful. But remember: As the salmon is only cooked with a temperature of about 40°C (104°F), it is warm, not hot when served!
Salmon Mi Cuit
Recipe source: Formulas for Flavor, adaptation
Required time (salmon only): prep. 5 min., cooking 40 min., serves: 2
2 pieces sushi-quality salmon fillet, 150g each (washed & trimmed, we also cut each in half)
Ingredients cooking oil:
150ml corn oil
150ml olive oil
3 bay leaves
1 large vanilla bean
150ml olive oil
about a hand full fresh basil leaves & half as much fresh parsley leaves
Recipe source: my mum
Required time: cooking 15-20 min., prep. 5 min., serves: 2-3
6 mid-sized potatoes
2 tbsp butter
about 75 ml milk (or even heavy cream!), amount can vary - depending on the desired consistency
a good pinch of coarse sea salt
1 yellow zucchino, cut into fine cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
finely ground black pepper