Cook salmon just till it starts to flake

May 03, 1992|By Pat Dailey | Pat Dailey,Chicago Tribune

Salmon responds well to a range of cooking methods. Classical cookery often recommends poaching whole salmon but few cooks have the unwieldy fish poacher on hand. Fortunately, there are other options which favor the more convenient fillets and steaks.

With its high oil content, salmon does very well on the grill. It cabe grilled plain or bathed in a marinade. The charcoal taste is enough of a flavor enhancement but a small amount of mesquite wood mixed in with the charcoal lends a nuance.

Indoors, broiling, steaming, pan cooking, baking and microwavcooking all work well with salmon.

Salmon should be cooked only until it begins to flake. Because it changes in color as it cooks, from deep orange to a paler tone, it is especially easy to tell when salmon is properly cooked.

Sauteed salmon with lemon grass butter

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves four.

2 stalks fresh lemon grass

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1 small red bell pepper, very finely diced

4 green onions, cut in thin rings

3/4 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

4 salmon fillets, about 6 ounces each

salt to taste

Trim away the dry outer layers from the lemon grass. Mince softer inside leaves as fine as possible. Transfer to a small pan; add butter and vinegar. Melt butter; cook gently 5 minutes. Strain mixture into a small bowl, pressing on solids to remove as much butter as possible.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter mixture in a large, heavy skillet, preferably non-stick, over medium-high heat. Add red pepper and green onions; cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cilantro and remove from heat. Transfer to a small dish; set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture over low heat in same skillet. Add salmon, skin side down. Cover and cook gently 2 minutes. Carefully turn salmon and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Turn again, season with salt, cover and cook until salmon is just cooked through, about 2 minutes longer.

F: Serve salmon with red pepper mixture spooned over top.

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