Cold Poached Salmon with Sweet-and-Sour Yellow Sauce

Shaké no Kimizu Aé

On a hot summer day, this salmon dish will be very much appreciated. The bright yellow sauce is just tart enough to awaken your taste buds yet rich enough to satisfy your hunger. It comes as a surprise to many Westerners to learn that several egg-thickened sauces, such as this one, are part of traditional Japanese cuisine. In Japan, this sweet-and-sour sauce is served with a variety of cooked fish and shellfish.

Ingredients

  • 1 fillet of salmon, about 14 ounces
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Poaching Broth

  • 15-20 square inches dashi kombu (kelp for stock making)
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 tablespoon saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 slice lemon

Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 jumbo egg yolk

Method

  1. Lay a double thickness of cheesecloth on a cutting board. Place the salmon fillet, skin side down, on the cheesecloth. Check to be sure all bones have been removed along the center line of the fillet. Lightly salt the fish. Fold over the ends of the cheesecloth to enclose the fish.
  2. Prepare the poaching broth: In a fish poacher, combine the kelp and cold water and bring the water to a boil. Remove from the heat, season with the rice wine, and add the slice of lemon.
  3. Carefully place the wrapped salmon in the poaching broth, skin side down. Arrange the kelp so that it rests on top of the fish, almost like an inner lid. Over low heat, poach the salmon 10-12 minutes. Ladle the poaching liquid over the kelp and fish frequently.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat, and allow the fish to cool in the poaching broth. Then remove the salmon from the broth and chill it, still wrapped in cheesecloth and covered with kelp, in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.
  5. In a small saucepan combine the sugar, salt, and vinegar. Over low heat, stirring, cook the mixture about 1 minute until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Chill this mixture for at least 1 hour. Then add the egg yolk to the chilled vinegar mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon or paddle until smooth. Place the mixture over a double boiler and cook the sauce, stirring, until thickened, like a custard. If the sauce should curdle, it can be smoothed by forcing it through a fine-meshed sieve and mixing in a few drops of stock or water. Chill the sauce. Just before using it, thin the sauce to the consistency of heavy cream by stirring in the stock or water, a few drops at a time.
  6. Slice the poached salmon into three or four pieces and serve, skin side down, with sauce spooned over the pink flesh.

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