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.
The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert. Copyright © 2003 by Paula Wolfert. Photographs copyright © by Christopher Hirsheimer. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.