The last couple of weeks I’ve been buying two pieces of salmon with the skin on from Coles. I’ve been eating salmon on Sunday and Monday evenings and I’ve been cooking them under vacuum (sous vide).
As much as I like a quick cook on a cast-iron skillet and getting a really crispy skin, the texture of sous vide salmon is sublime. The flesh just flakes with the slightest pressure. The cooking time is relatively short and the temperature is very gentle. I usually set my precision cooker for 50 °C for 40 minutes.
A feature of sous vide salmon is wet brining the salmon. This is an optional step but if you don’t brine, it will mean you will have a film of coagulated albumin over the surface of the salmon when it’s cooked.
Wet brining the salmon is dead easy. A few hours before cooking, put the pieces of salmon into a container. Add a handful of iodised salt and then add the iced water. Put the lid on the container and then refrigerate it for a few hours.
After removing the salmon from the refrigerator and removing the lid you’ll see a wispy slimy film over the salmon. This needs to be washed off using tap water. Once the albumin has been removed, dry the salmon gently with a towel or kitchen paper.
Put the salmon into a vacuum bag or a ziplock bag. If you have a vacuum extractor use the vacuum bag. If you prefer the water displacement method, use the ziplock bag.
Your salmon is now ready for cooking in the water bath. I always set up my water bath fresh for each cook so I fill it with cold tap water and attach the precision cooker. If you don’t know what a precision cooker is, it’s a water heater and circulator. It keeps the water at a set temperature and I know some people who will keep it running for many hours and in some situations, days depending on what they’re trying to cook.
Salmon is delicate, so as I wrote in a preceding paragraph, I set the precision cooker for 50 °C for 40 minutes.
Once the salmon is cooked, I will put one piece in the refrigerator for tomorrow night and I’ll keep the other piece warm sitting on the water bath while I go about finishing off the other elements of the meal.
At this point, I remove the salmon from the vacuum bag and carefully dry the skin. I then peel the skin off and put it on a lined baking tray. I cover the salmon flesh with aluminium foil and put the plate on top of the water bath to keep it warm. The aluminium foil is to keep the flesh moist and preventing it from drying out. No one likes dry fish flesh.
At about this time I toss some kale sprouts into a large mixing bowl and squirt in some Queensland nut oil plus some freshly ground iodised salt and black whole peppercorns (I do this in a mortar with a pestle). With my hands, I toss the kale sprouts in the bowl and try to get good coverage of the leaves with the oil, salt, and pepper.
I then spread the seasoned and oiled kale sprouts onto a lined baking sheet (next to the salmon skin) and put the tray into a hot oven which has been set to about 180 °C for about 15 minutes. The aim is to get the leaves of the kale sprouts crispy like chips without burning.
While the kale sprouts are in the oven I get out of the refrigerator three eggs, some butter, and some dijon mustard and hot sauce. I also get a lime and some hot sauce plus a red onion and a fennel bulb.
With a mandolin, I shred into fine pieces the red onion and fennel. These raw aromatic vegetables will give the hollandaise some added bite and kick.
I melt the butter, about 125 grams will do, using microwave radiation. I then separate the yolks of three eggs and out them into the bottom of a tall plastic cup. After squeezing the juice from the lime I mix it with a teaspoon of the dijon mustard plus a teaspoon of hot sauce.
It’s now a matter of getting everything together because making hollandaise sauce requires some focus and dexterity. I use a stick blender because I have spindly arms and thin wrists with poor muscle power for a whisk. Begin blending the egg yolks and then add the mixture of dijon mustard, lime juice, and hot sauce. While still blending, slowly pour in the melted heavenly goodness which is melted butter. As you pour in the butter which has been enhanced with microwave radiation, marvel at how it forms a thick unctuous sauce.
Once the hollandaise sauce is made, add in the bits of red onion and fennel. At this stage, you could wonder why you didn’t crispy up some streaky bacon bits and add them too. Stir through the red onion and fennel knowing the flavours and mouthfeel will be amazing with the salmon.
By now the kale sprouts and salmon skin should be done and it’s time to make a plate of food.
Uncover the moist and tender salmon flesh and gently transfer it to a dinner plate. You need to be careful because it will easily flake and fall apart. If it does, then one option would be to create rough flakes with a fork and mix the flakes into the hollandaise sauce you’ve made.
If you can keep the salmon altogether, put it on the dinner plate and then spoon over the hollandaise sauce with the bitey red onion and fennel in it.
If the salmon skin hasn’t burnt to a crisp, place it atop the salmon in some artistic fashion.
Place the kale sprouts next to the salmon and then with a teaspoon you might like to dribble a little hollandaise sauce on the kale sprouts.
Alternatively, put the remaining hollandaise sauce in a ramekin and use it as a dipping sauce for the crispy kale sprouts.
This meal is indulgent and decadent. You will have consumed more butter than you should. You’ll be impressed with the texture and mouthfeel of the sous vide salmon. You’ll love the crispy kale sprouts. Most of all, the tangy spicy hollandaise sauce will draw everything together.
I hope you enjoyed this. If you decide to make this for yourself, I’d love to hear from you and hear how it went.
Have a good week and stay safe from COVID-19. If you’re one of those conspiracy people who don’t believe SARS-COV-2 exists, then out of respect for others, please keep your views to yourself and don’t go out in public and please don’t share your nonsense on-line. That’s just as annoying as the way I’ve prattled on about this recipe.