Salmon with Red Onions and Red Wine

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Mediterranean Kitchen

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1998

  • About

The French love to cook vegetables until they are as sweet as sugar. They call this a confit, short for confiture or jam. For this dish, we cook the red onions to the consistency of marmalade and flavor them with red wine. We poach the fish in red wine too. This combination is, as they say, formidable.


  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 6 large red onions, sliced ¼ inch thick (about 8 cups)
  • 3 cups full-bodied red wine, such as Zinfandel or Côtes du Rhône
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups Fish Fumet
  • 6 salmon fillets, 5 to 6 ounces each


Melt ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon butter in a large heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender but still a bit al dente, about 15 minutes. Add 2 cups wine and continue cooking until the onions are very tender, about 8 minutes more. Sweeten to taste with sugar and season with salt and pepper. Let stand. (You should have about 3 cups confit.)

Heat the remaining wine and the fish fumet in a wide saucepan to simmering (see Note). Add the fish and poach gently over low heat until just cooked through, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the salmon to a warm platter. Boil the poaching liquid until somewhat syrupy, then stir in the onion confit and just heat through. Swirl in the remaining 7 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, taking the pan on and off low heat so that the butter emulsifies before it melts. Spoon the onion sauce over the salmon.