Wild Monterey Bay Salmon with Lemon-Mint Couscous, Cucumber Threads, and Dill-Shallot Vinaigrette

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6 servings
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Ingredients (21)

For the Lemon-Mint Couscous:

  • 2 cups couscous
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup packed julienned mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup packed julienned parsley leaves

For the Cucumber Threads:

  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1/4 cup crème fraiche
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Salt

For the Pickled Red Onion:

  • 2 cups sliced red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups red-label rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

To Finish and Plate:

  • 6 (5-ounce) portions salmon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced into rounds
  • Dill-Shallot Vinaigrette

Summary

Salmon’s rich flavor need not compete with several taste elements on the same plate. Accenting salmon with a little acidity from the Dill-Shallot Vinaigrette and swaying this acidity by introducing a tangy Lemon-Mint Couscous provides a refreshing summer meal, balanced with flavor that tastes natural, not difficult.

Note: Craig von Foerster, executive chef of the Post Ranch Inn’s Sierra Mar Restaurant, shares his CHOW Tip for bronzing salmon in this video. He uses the bronzed salmon in this recipe; steps on how to make it are included under the section To Finish and Plate.

Instructions

For the Lemon-Mint Couscous:
  1. 1Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the couscous in a heat-proof bowl. Bring the water, salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil to a boil and pour over couscous. Mix well, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place for 10 minutes. Spread out pine nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes or until lightly toasted. Uncover and fluff up the couscous with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients and adjust seasoning to taste.

For the Cucumber Threads:

  1. 1With the medium shredding attachment on a Japanese mandolin, julienne the cucumber by running it through the mandolin approximately 5 times on each side until you reach the seeds. Repeat until all the sides have been shredded. When ready to serve, toss the cucumber in a bowl with the crème fraiche, lemon juice, and salt.

For the Pickled Red Onion:

  1. 1Peel the red onion and slice across into thin rings using a Japanese mandolin. Place first 3 ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil; place the red onions in a stainless steel or ceramic bowl and pour vinegar mixture over the top. Let cool in liquid.

To Finish and Plate:

  1. 1Preheat oven to 350° F. Remove the skin and the pin bones from the salmon. Cut slices 1 1/2 inches thick across the widest part of the salmon. Roll slices into pinwheels. Tie around the outside with butcher’s twine. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Heat the oil over high heat in an oven-proof skillet large enough to hold all the salmon without crowding. Add salmon and cook until you can see a brown crust from the bottom; do not turn over. Transfer to preheated oven and bake for 6 minutes. Make a circle of sliced cucumbers in the center of each plate. Place a ring mold over the cucumber circle and fill with Lemon-Mint Couscous, pressing down so the couscous will hold its shape when the mold is removed. Cut and remove string from the salmon and then place on top of the couscous. Twist the dressed cucumber into a nest with a fork. Drizzle the Dill-Shallot Vinaigrette around the fish and then top with Cucumber Threads and Pickled Red Onion.

Recipe by Craig von Foerster From Post Ranch Inn’s Sierra Mar Cookbook, published by Gibbs Smith Publishing

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