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The Mass Media

The Foodie Files: White Wine Poached Salmon with

This is another one of those great dishes that sounds really awesome and impressive, but is actually quite simple and pretty cheap to prepare. Mussels normally cost around two dollars a pound, but they don’t have a ton of meat to them, so they need to be paired with something more substantial. Salmon is right up their with swordfish as the beef steak of fish, in that it is a hearty, solid fish that will stand up to poaching but will come out buttery soft. It is also jam packed with proteins and Omega-3 fatty acids making it a great source of nutrition and a good balance to the mussels. The subtle cream sauce adds a nice color and texture and the dill offsets the acidity of the white wine, which is a bridging ingredient between the two dishes. In fact, one of the first things you should do in the way of prep is to grab a cheap bottle of white wine, which will be an absolute necessity for both dishes. Start with the mussels and while your guests are conversing and enjoying them, cook the fish. Not only is this meal delicious, but it is a lot cheaper than actually going to Provence (a region in the southeast of France) and you don’t have watch your money disappear when you change it for euros. All in all, a good deal.

Mussels Provencal

Mussels are delicious little morsels of oceany goodness, but they can be intimidating if you aren’t used to cooking with shellfish. This is one of my favorite preparations, because it is super quick (about 10 minutes including prep), yummy, and the aroma that explodes out of the pot when you take the top off is intoxicating. There are a couple necessary steps to dealing with mussels before you begin to actually cook. First, dump all of mussels into a bowl and inspect them carefully. Discard any mussels that are broken or partially open, as this means that they have probably already died and should be avoided. Also check to make sure that none of them have “beards”, which are little pieces of seaweed that you can see poking out between the halves of the shell of the closed mussel. Give it a good tug and it should come right off.

1lb Live Mussels

2 tspns Garlic, chopped

1 tspn EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

3 cups White wine

1) In a large cooking pot with a lid, sauté your garlic in the EVOO over a medium heat until the garlic begins to brown

2) Add your inspected mussels to the pot and let them cook for about thirty seconds

3) Dump the white wine into the pot, cover with the lid, and let the mussels steam over a medium-high heat for a few minutes (2-4) or until all of the shells are open.

Serve out of the pot, family style, making sure to have a bowl for spent shells and some decent bread to soak up all of that delicious juice. If you really want it to pop visually, sprinkle with a little minced parsley before you serve it.

White Wine Poached Salmon with Dill Cream Sauce

Poaching is one of the most delicate preparations for fish that there is, and while it requires some precision in terms of temperature control, the process is not too bad if you know what you’re doing. The basic rule with cooking anything is that the lower the heat and slower the cooking process, the more tender something will be, and the same rules apply here. Another thing to remember is that fish is relatively fragile and, even though salmon is a little more substantial then say a white fish, it does not stand up so well to intense application of heat that often either make the fish tough or cause it to lose its structural integrity and fall apart. This preparation is very gentle on the flesh and also cooks the fish in such a way that it retains a buttery texture and is infused with the flavors of the wine that it is cooked in.

Dill Cream Sauce

2 cups Heavy cream

1 tblspn Crème fraiche or sour cream

2 tblspns Fresh dill

½ tspn Lemon juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

1) Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan over a medium-low heat

2) Cook for 15-20 minutes until reduced by a third

Poached Salmon

1 Salmon filet, skin on

4 cups White wine

2 cups Vegetable stock (canned or fresh)

1 Fresh lemon, thinly sliced into rounds

1)In a pan large enough to lay flat the entire filet, heat the white wine and vegetable stock until a meat thermometer reads the temperature at EXACTLY between 140-150 degrees. Precision is absolutely vital here: Above 150, the fish begins to fall apart, below 140 and it wont cook through.

2) Once you poaching liquid has reached the desired temperature, reduce the heat to as low as possible.

3) Line the bottom of the pan with the lemon slices. When you place the salmon on top of them it will not only add some flavor, but will prevent the fish from sticking to the pan.

4) Place your salmon filet skin side up on top of the lemons. All of the flesh of the fish should be submerged, but the liquid should not cover the filet entirely and the skin should be out of the liquid. If necessary, add more white wine until the liquid is sufficient.

5) Maintaining the temperature at exactly the previously mentioned range, cook the fish for 20 minutes or until it is cooked through.

To serve, carefully separate the fish from the skin; it should come off easily just by peeling with your fingers. Spoon the dill sauce over the fish on a platter and sprinkle some fresh dill for garnish.

About the Contributor
Ben Whelan served for the following positions at The Mass Media for the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Spring 2009; 2009-2010. News Editor: Spring 2008; Fall 2008 Sports Editor: 2006-2007