Thursday, March 31, 2016

Crispy Salmon on Spinach Mash & Braised Succotash

There is nothing quite like gorgeous pieces of salmon cooked to crispy perfection. Served over a pillow of creamy mashed potatoes tossed with chopped spinach, butter and skim milk nestled on top of a bed of colourful braised vegetables, this dish is a symphony of flavours and textures. The key to mastering the classic pan-searing method of making restaurant-quality crispy-skinned salmon is simple and straight forward. To begin, pat paper towels over all sides of each filet. The salmon should be as dry as possible — the dryer the fish, the better it will cook. Using a neutral oil such as grapeseed or canola, a nonstick frying pan is set over medium-high heat. While the pan heats, each piece of salmon is generously seasoned with salt and pepper, and when the oil is shimmering, each fillet is laid skin-side down into the pan and immediately press down gently on the fillet and turn the heat down to medium-low. Pressing on the fish helps keep the skin in contact with the pan and ensures an evenly-crisped surface. Salmon skin shrinks as it cooks, so if the fish isn't pressed into the pan, it can curl out of shape. Don't move the fish in the pan until a crust has formed. You'll know when a crust has formed and your fish is ready to flip by shaking your pan and the fish slides across the pan. Once the skin is crispy, flip the salmon over and 'kiss' the top of the fillet just long enough to finish cooking it, which should be about only about a minute for medium-rare succulent pink perfection. 

Mashed potatoes with chopped fresh spinach, butter, skim milk and seasoned with salt and white pepper

Red cherry and grape tomatoes sautéed in oil and thyme

Diced zucchini and corn added to the tomatoes and simmered over medium low for 10-15 minutes

While the succotash is cooking, the salmon is set skin side down in a non stick frying pan 
with a little oil until the skin is crisp, about 10 minutes

Once the salmon is cooked about half way through and the skin is crisp, 
the salmon is turned over and cooked another minute or two until done

Crispy Salmon on Spinach Mash with Braised Succotash
Serves 2

2 skin-on salmon fillets, patted dry
1 pinch salt
1 pinch fresh ground white pepper
4 tsp vegetable oil

Spinach Mash:
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
1/4 cup warm milk
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cups packed fresh spinach, thickly sliced

Braised Vegetables:
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp fish ground white or black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup fresh corn kernels or frozen corn kernels
1 zucchini, diced

In a large saucepan, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, about 18 to 20 minutes. Drain well then add milk, butter, salt, pepper and mash until smooth. Stir in the spinach, then cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, thyme, pepper, salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the corn and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender-crisp, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the flesh side of the salmon with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium low hight, and set the salmon skin side down. Using a spatula, press down on the fish to ensure all the skin is touching the pan, then turn the heat down to medium low and continue cooking the fis  until the skin is crisp and releases easily from pan, about 10 minutes or until the salmon is 90% cooked. Turn and cook until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, about 1 to 2 minutes.

To serve, spoon the mashed potatoes into the centre of 2 shallow pre-warmed bowls and surround with the braised vegetables. Top each bowl with the salmon set skin side up and serve immediately.

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