Monday, December 08, 2008
Seared Salmon with Green Lentils and Tomato Confit
I'm on a slight health kick this week. Very little of my catering dishes contain butter. Since I push to have them served cold or room temperature, I avoid butter because you can see it on the food. So, in taking a lesson from my own catering mantra, I going to stick to dishes this week that I serve to my clients, from seared fish to salads with a twist.
We used to make a lentil salad at the Ritz-Carlton that was lovely and delicate in its texture and flavor. Always simmered with house-made stock instead of water, the lentils held their texture but still tasted creamy and rich.
I started with a mirepoix: a very small dice of carrots, onions and celery. I find it best to keep components of a dish the same size. It would seem silly to have large chunks of vegetables with the small pea-sized lentils. I sauteed the mirepoix with just salt and pepper and add some parsley at the end for some bright freshness. I then added larger pieces of mirepoix, combined with thyme and garlic, chicken stock and the green lentils to a small pot. When cooking the lentils, I cut pieces of the mirepoix large enough so I could easily pull them out at the end of the cooking process. I let them simmer for 15-20 mintues, finished them with a bit of red wine vinegar and they were finished.
Meanwhile, I roasted two plum tomatoes, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper. The ends were removed and they were sliced in half and roasted, cut side down. Once the skin started to split, it pulled them and let them cool. Once I could handle them, I removed the skin and seeds and diced the flesh. I added some more salt and pepper, as well as some fresh parsley and a drop of truffle oil.
To prepare the salmon, I preheated a non-stick skillet and salted and peppered the fillets. While keeping the heat at medium, I gently lay the fillets in the hot oil. After a nice crust had formed, I finished the fillets in the oven for anther 5 minutes or so.
The resulting combination of the three components was a true success. A warm comforting meal that didn't leave us feeling like we ate too much. Lentils lend themselves very well to salmon. The fatty texture of the salmon pairs well with the delicate seeds (yes, lentils are seeds). Lentils are a wonderful source of iron and we all know the benefits of salmon. There was little fat in this meal, only being used to roasted the tomatoes and sear the salmon. Feel free to make this ahead of time and serve it room temperature. That's what I would suggest. It will be just as delicious.
By the way, I also had my first clementine of the season. Not as sweet as they will be, but I'll be coming up with some dishes for those. I love cooking with the seasons. And tis the season for clementines. Perhaps a clementine marmalade or a perhaps a glaze for some grilled shrimp...I'll think of something.
P.S. I obviously need some help with my photos. I don't know why they always have such a yellow tint. Any suggestions?