Getting hooked on salmon steaks

April 21, 1993|By Bev Bennett | Bev Bennett,Los Angeles Times

If you haven't become hooked on fish because it's not sold in the small amounts you prefer, then net some salmon steak. It's the fish cut made for two. A small salmon steak yields one serving. It's quick cooking with little waste.

What's more, there are so many ways to cook it that salmon can make a frequent appearance at the dinner table without becoming boring. Most recipes suggest poaching or oven-broiling salmon in the winter and grilling it outdoors in the summer.

My favorite year-round cooking method is to saute it. When salmon is dusted with a mixture of flour and herbs and cooked in a little butter, it has a delicately crisp exterior and a moist and tender interior.

For a meal in minutes, saute salmon steaks and serve with lemon wedges or cayenne-laced mayonnaise on the side. For something more time-consuming but with a great payoff in taste, create a "jam" by stewing onions with tarragon and juniper berries and seasoning with vinegar, sugar and hot pepper sauce. The sweet-pungent herbal onion mixture is a delicious partner to salmon.

Since asparagus is in grocery stores now, it's the obvious vegetable choice.

Salmon with Vidalia onions

Serves 2.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large Vidalia or any other sweet onion

3 (1-inch) sprigs fresh tarragon

5 to 6 juniper berries (available dried in supermarket spice section)

2 salmon steaks (5 to 6 ounces each)

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 teaspoon crushed, dried tarragon

Salt, freshly ground white pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 to 1 teaspoon balsamic or sherry vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Dash hot red pepper sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in deep skillet. Peel onion and cut in half lengthwise, then into thin semi-circles. Add onions to skillet with tarragon and juniper berries. Cook over low heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Onions should become soft, but not brown.

Dust salmon steaks with mixture of flour and tarragon, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter in second skillet. Add salmon and saute over medium heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

When onions have cooked 15 minutes, add vinegar and sugar. Simmer another 5 minutes. Add enough hot pepper sauce for mildly hot flavor. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove juniper berries.

Place salmon steaks on 2 serving plates. Top each with half the onions.

Asparagus with browned bread crumbs

Serves 2.

1/4 to 3/4 pound asparagus

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 shallot, minced

1/2 cup bread crumbs (see note)

Salt, freshly ground white pepper

Snap tough ends off asparagus. Place asparagus in skillet with 1/2 -inch water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until asparagus is tender, 8 to 15 minutes. (Cooking time depends on thickness of asparagus.)

Heat butter in small pan. Add shallot and saute 1 minute. Add bread crumbs and saute until golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Drain asparagus well and place on serving plate. Sprinkle with flavored bread crumbs and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Note: To make 1/2 cup bread crumbs, toast 1 slice good-quality white bread. Finely chop by hand or process in food processor fitted with steel blade.

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