Steamed Salmon Steaks with Radicchio and Balsamic Vinegar

Salmone a Vapore con Radicchio e Aceto Balsamico

Several years ago in Venice our downstairs neighbor invited us to dinner. Venetian neighbors just don’t do that. What was equally gratifying was that I walked back upstairs with a recipe for the excellent fish we’d had for dinner.

I admire the delicate play of flavors in this salmon. There is the luxurious, pure taste of the steamed fish set off by the bracing astringency of radicchio, which in turn is tempered by the sweet-and-sour balsamic vinegar.

I have a long, horizontal poacher with an insert on which the fish rests that lifts straight out. It is very practical to use if you poach a whole fish often or, as we do, if you cook cotechino, the long, creamy pork sausage. My neighbor had no steamer of any kind but had rigged up an efficient substitute by placing a rectangular cake-drying rack in a lasagne pan and improvising a lid with a large metal tray.

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For each 1-inch-thick Salmon Steak

  • 4 leaves red radicchio
  • Salt
  • Black pepper ground fresh
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (the finer the vinegar, the less is required)

A fish poacher or see the suggestion in the headnote for rigging one up


  1. Remove the skin circling the salmon. Look for and pick out any bones. Curl the ends of the steak inward to give it a round, tight shape.
  2. Detach the required number of leaves from the head of radicchio, and drop them in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and let cool.
  3. Sprinkle the salmon with salt and liberal grindings of black pepper, then wrap each steak in 4 radicchio leaves.
  4. Bring water in a steamer to a simmer, put in the wrapped salmon steaks, and cook for 13 to 15 minutes, depending on their size.
  5. Transfer to a platter, dress each steak with 1 teaspoon olive oil and ½ to 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, and serve at once.