This is my version of the nouvelle cuisine masterpiece that changed the way the world looked at classical French cooking. I adapted a recipe from Daniel Boulud, who probably adapted the original Troisgros recipe, and so it goes in cooking.
- 2 center-cut salmon fillets uniformly sized
- salt to taste
- white pepper to taste
- lemon wedges for squeezing
- 2 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 4 white mushrooms
- 1 medium shallot
- 3 tablespoon dry vermouth
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoon clam juice or more
- 2 1-inch chunks of scrap salmon
- 4 ounce sorrel leaves
1. If you fillets have skin, remove it. You may also need to remove any of the tiny bones sometimes found in the center of fillets.
2. Using a long, thin flexible boning or fish knife remove the â€œhumpâ€ section of each fillet. Your goal is to have two fillets as uniformly consistent in thickness as possible. Save some of the scraps for the sauce.
3. With the same knife cut each fillet in half or thirds horizontally. Each thin section should be less than ½â€ thick. ⅓â€ thick is ideal. But Iâ€™ll be honest itâ€™s not the easiest trick in the book. Work slowly and carefully. You want each salmon â€œscallopiniâ€ to remain as intact as possible.
4. Transfer each finished salmon â€œscallopiniâ€ to a barely greased parchment lined platter large enough to hold the fish in a single layer. You may need two plates. You do not want the salmon to stick to the parchment paper and be destroyed as you move it to the pan. The oil is helpful with this. But do not use very much oil. The fish should hit the pan dry.
5. Put the plate(s) of salmon in the refrigerator while you make the sauce. It will hold, covered, this way for up to 24 hours.
1. Chop the mushrooms into tiny pieces. You need not make them perfect or uniform because they will be strained out later. But very small helps coax out as much flavor as possible.
2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Once it has melted add the mushrooms, shallots and vermouth to the pan. Watch it cook, stirring often until all the liquid is absorbed into the vegetables. Then add the white wine.
3. Continue to keep your eye on the pan, until most of the wine has reduced down, evaporated or is absorbed.
4. Pour in the cream and add 1 or 2 chunks of the scrap salmon. Move the pot to a simmer plate or lower the heat to very low. We want to barely and slowly thicken the mixture. It should just begin to cling to the back of a metal spoon. When you have achieved this remove the sauce from the heat and set it aside, letting the flavors meld. It will continue to thicken as it cools. You may make the sauce up 2 two hours ahead. Making this a very easy and impressive fish course for a very proper dinner party.
Cooking and Plating the Salmon
1. When it is time to serve add 2 or more tablespoons clam juice to the cream sauce. Just enough to achieve a perfectly creamy consistency. Then pass it through a fine meshed strainer.
2. Wipe the saucepan clean of any bits or grit and return the sauce to the pan along with the sorrel leaves. Put the pan over medium heat, but do not let it boil or cook too long. You want to keep the sorrel as bright and green as possible so work quickly. Adjust the seasonings at this point. It may seem to need a spritz of lemon, but resist that temptation. This is better as a final flourish once the fish is plated.
3. Pour a small amount of the cream sauce onto each of 4 heated dinner plates. Arrange 5 or 6 sorrel leaves attractively in the sauce.
4. Remove the salmon from the refrigerator and season each â€œscallopiniâ€ with salt and a little white pepper on one side. Choose the LESS attractive side.
5. Heat a very large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. You need non-stick here. I am not an advocate of non-stick, (even for eggs) but it is necessary in this dish. When the pan is hot slide the fish fillets into the pan unseasoned side down. Do not crowd them in any way. The texture of the fish is vitally important to the success here. Cook the fish about 1 ½ minutes. No more than 2 minutes under any circumstances. You want the salmon only half-cooked, with crispy brown edges and a rare interior. Flip each piece of salmon and cook it but a spare 10 or 15 seconds more.
6. Carefully transfer each salmon to the dinner plates centering it (seasoned side down) on top of the sorrels and sauce. Give each plate a spritz of lemon and serve immediately. The fish cools quickly.
NOTE: To keep the wine pairing as simple and classic as possible. Choose a Puilly-FuissÃ©