Salmon Fillet Poached in Olive Oil

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

While visiting the town of Deia on the island of Mallorca, I watched a young chef at the Residence Hotel simmer various pieces of fish and shellfish in quarts of olive oil. I was fascinated by the way he cooked each variety for a different length of time and at a low temperature to achieve a glistening, almost translucent, texture and an incredible succulence. For example, he cooked thick chunks of squid for up to 6 hours at 140°F; shelled thick clams for 4 hours; and freshened slabs of salt cod for 2 hours. In no case did this lengthy, slow simmering produce overcooked fish

As he explained it to me, “So long as the internal temperature and the temperature of the oil remain the same, the fish will not be overcooked. This is a very old way of preparing and preserving all kinds of chewy textured fish in my hometown of Soller,” he told me. “Nowadays, we use the same low-temperature method to cook fish fillets, such as turbot and salmon, but we don’t cook them as long. What we do now is flavor the oil with browned garlic and let it steep so it will be flavorful for cooking the fish.”

This salmon dish is especially successful when served under a bright and acidic salad made of shaved raw rhubarb, slivers of cucumber, leaves of young arugula and fresh mint.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound thick center-cut, salmon, preferably sushi grade, skinned and pin bones removed
  • Coarse sea salt
  • cups olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • freshly ground pepper
  • Raw Rhubarb, Cucumber, and Mint Salad

Method

  1. Lightly salt the salmon and refrigerate it for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a cazuela or straight-sided skillet just large enough to hold the salmon, heat the olive oil with the garlic and thyme to simmering. When the garlic turns golden brown, remove from the heat and let stand until ready to cook.
  3. Discard the garlic and thyme. Heat the oil to 155°F. Rinse the salmon, pat dry, and slip into the oil. Add additional oil, if necessary, to completely cover the salmon. Bring the temperature of the oil to about 145°F and poach the salmon for 12 minutes. Remove the cazuela from the heat. The fish will continue to cook in the receding heat. The salmon is fully cooked when the flesh flakes. Use a spatula to remove the salmon, which will look amazingly rare but will be fully cooked, Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with pepper.
  4. Let the salmon rest for 5 minutes, then cut into 4 pieces. Serve warm, with the room-temperature rhubarb salad arranged on top.

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