INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
FOR THE FISH
- 3/4 lb salmon fillet with skin on
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 fresh sprigs thyme, leaves stripped from stems
- 1 medium-sized russet potato
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon flour
- 1 cup milk
- 3 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- salt and white pepper
Cut the salmon fillet vertically into two strips, one for each serving. Remove the pin bones from the fish with a pair of needle-nose pliers, or by hand if you can get a good grip. Place the strips skin side down and season with the pepper, salt, and thyme.
Peel the potato and slice as thin as possible (the should be flexible and translucent) with a mandoline or sharp knife. Cut the cloves of garlic in half lengthwise, score the cut surfaces with a knife, and rub garlic over the potato slices. Cover the surface of the salmon with a layer of the potato slices. Add a second layer, draping it from the top over the sides of the fish.
For the sauce: Melt butter in a small saucepan over a medium flame. Once it is melted and bubbling, add the flour and stir thoroughly until a uniform paste is formed. Continue cooking until the roux just starts to brown. Add a quarter of the milk, and whisk to incorporate. Repeat three more times until all the milk has been added. Lower the flame to prevent boiling. Cook, stirring a couple of times, for five minutes, then whisk in the mustard. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
Heat a large skillet over a medium flame. Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil. It should shimmer, and begin to just barely smoke. Place the fish potato side down in the pan. Be careful not to bend the fish. Cook for two minutes. Once a crispy crust is formed, carefully turn the fish over so that the skin side is down. The potato crust should be a lovely golden brown.
Continue to cook until the skin becomes crisp and the fish is medium rare to medium. This should take about four or five minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. A small knife tip in the side of the fish can be used to check doneness.
To serve, place the fish potato-side up and drizzle some of the Dijon sauce on the side. Serve with a side of sauteed spinach and sauteed baby carrots.