Thursday, March 05, 2009

Pan-Seared Salmon with Yam-Red Bell Pepper Curry Sauce

I learned from cooking classes that I've taken, and from professional chefs, that good, beautiful food takes time. Lots of time. The reason why food we eat at our favorite restaurants is consistently good and beautiful is because they've already prepared most of the major components, such as sauces or gastriques or spice mixtures, ahead of time. The recipe below is something you can start the night before. You can make the curry sauce and refrigerate and just slowly reheat the next day. Make the gastrique that morning and keep it a room temperature. And about half and hour before you eat, make the mashed turnips and sauteed greens and salmon. Of course, you can save lots of time by using a jarred curry sauce and blending it with some cooked yams and roasted red bell peppers.

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)


  • 4 skin-on salmon fillets, about 6 ounces and 1 to 1-1/4" thick
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped dill
  • Mashed turnips (for side dish)
  • Sauteed greens, such as spinach or Swiss chard (for side dish)

Run some cold water over fillets to clean; pat dry. Remove any bones. Salt and pepper both sides of fillet. Sprinkle the fresh dill over flesh of each fillet (no need on the skin side).

Heat a 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet (cast iron) for 3 minutes over high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. When oil shimmers (but does not smoke) add fillets skin side down and cook, without moving fillets, until pan regains lost heat, about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium-high; continue to cook until skin side is well browned and bottom half of fillets turns opaque, 4-1/2 minutes.

Turn fillets and cook, without moving them, until they are no longer translucent on the exterior and are firm, but not hard, when gently squeezed: 3 minutes for medium-rare and 3-1/2 minutes for medium. You can easily remove the skin from the salmon at this point with a knife, gently pulling until all skin is removed. Turn the salmon over and sear briefly, or until desired doneness is reached.

Remove fillets from pan; let stand 1 minute. Serve immediately.


  • 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup blood orange juice
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup petite diced roma tomato
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped

Combine vinegar and orange juice in small saucepan. Bring to boil and reduce by 1/3. Add sugar and cook until mixture begins to lightly coat a spoon. Remove from heat and add tomato segments and fresh thyme. Let cool to room temperature.

Yam & Red Bell Pepper Curry

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced
  • 1 or 2 green chiles, seeded and diced
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp corriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 can of petite-diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cooked yams, roughly chopped
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, skin removed and seeded and roughly chopped
  1. Heat the oil or ghee in a sauce pan, wok or pot on medium high.
  2. Add the cumin seeds and fry until they start to brown, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the onion and stir well. You want onion to lightly brown and soft (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add the garlic, ginger and chiles. When the garlic turns light brown, move to next step.
  5. Lower heat a little then add in the rest of the spices and stir well, and cook for another minute or two.
  6. Pour in the tomatoes and stir occasionally. Aim for something roughly as thick as tomato sauce; not too watery and not too thick and pasty--this could take up to 15 minutes.
  7. Add the salt, cooked yam and roasted red bell peppers. Stir well, to let it absorb the ingredients.
  8. Take off the heat and let it cool a little.
  9. Add the contents into a blender and puree until very smooth. If too thick, add a little water, a tablespoon at a time.
  10. Put the puréed mixture back into the pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes over very low heat stirring occasionally.
  11. To serve, place a dollop of mashed turnips, followed by some sauteed greens in center of 4 plates. Top with pan-seared salmon fillet, and slowly pour a little curry sauce around each plate. Top each fillet with a teaspoon of gastrique.

      1 comment:

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