All right, time to make good on my promise to celebrate this year’s Asparagus Season properly~! Usually, Hubby and I indulge in our region’s asparagus about 1-2 times a week during the season. Of course these weekday dinners are breezy ones, you know, along the lines of a quick salad with strawberry dressing, a flick-of-the-wrist asparagus soup or as vinaigretty side to a lemony chicken breast.
During 3-4 of the season’s weekends, however, I go big. You guys probably know my soft spot for anything-beef hitting my plate along with anything-asparagus. So, this time around, I made a point of mixing things up a bit on more than one occasion and add another of my favorite goes-hand-in-hand-with-asparagus ingredients to one of those Asparagus Special weekend-shindigs. During which I actually realized that this one’s…. kind of a ruse. A delicious one, mind you, but as fancy as it may sound, it’s really a 15 min quick-fix dinner, perfect for any weekday that calls for a little treat! So, asparagus. Salmon. 2 servings. Go~!
The Pea Purée
250g Peas – fresh or thawed frozen ones both work nicely
1 Shallot, finely diced
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Clove of Garlic, very finely chopped
50ml Dry White Wine or Vermouth – a swig of the wine you’re having with the dish is always a good pick
100ml Chicken or Vegetable Stock – I always use the chicken stock I pre-cooked the asparagus (and their peels!) in… best of 2 worlds~
1 Tbsp Créme Légère
Herbed Sea Salt and freshly cracked Pepper to taste
1 Bushy Sprig of Parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1-2 Scrapes of Lemon Zest
1) Add the butter and the shallot dice to a small pot sitting on medium heat and gently sweat them for about 2 mins until they start to turn translucent.
2) Give them a small dusting of salt and pepper, then add the garlic, give the lot a quick flip and leave the pan to do its work for 3 more mins.
3) Drizzle in the oil and pop in the peas.
4) After adding another pinch of salt and a good crack of pepper, allow the lot to simmer away for 4 minutes.
5) Turn the heat to high and wait just 1 min.
6) Deglaze the pan with the wine and, once the alcohol has poofed out, add the stock along with the lemon juice
7) Bring the mixture up to a boil, turn the heat down to medium again, close he lid and leave the peas to simmer for 3 more mins.
8) Pop a fine sieve onto another pot and pour the contents of your currently occupied pot into the sieve, straining out the peas while keeping the delicious liquids.
9) Transfer the peas and everything else sitting in your sieve at the moment to your blender or food processor.
10) Top the pile of peas with the crème légère, parsley and lemon zest and whizz away until you’re looking at a bright green, smooth purée.
11) Add your fragrant pea stock in tablespoonfuls, if necessary, to reach the exact creaminess you’re looking for in a purée.
12) Have a delicious spoonful to judge the seasoning and, once you’re satisfied, move the purée into a bowl or pot you can easily keep warm for 5 mins and finish off the salmon~
The Salmon, the Sauce and the Veggies – all in one go~
2x 200-250g Pieces of Salmon Fillet – give them a quick once over for any bones or scales your fishmonger might have overlooked
A Drizzle of Olive Oil
2 Generous Pinches each of Salt, Pepper and Dried Tarragon
200-300g White Asparagus Spears, peeled, cut into bite-sized pieces and pre-cooked al dente
4 Tbsp Parsley leaves, very finely chopped
4 Tbsp Tarragon leaves, very finely chopped
200ml Low Fat Cooking Cream
2 Cloves of Garlic, very finely chopped
Fine Sea Salt and freshly cracked black or mixed Pepper
75-100g Strawberries, cleaned and thinly sliced or quartered
1) Rinse and dry the fish, line your work surface with clingfilm and flip the salmon on its meaty side.
2) Use a very sharp knife to score the skin down to (but not in to~!) the meat in diagonal, crossing cuts that are spaced about ½ cm apart. Scoring the salmon skin that way will prevent the fillet from curling in on itself while cooking – which would keep it it from cooking through nice and evenly.
3) Rub the cuts with a bit of salt and dried tarragon – pepper will follow after the gig – and flip the fillets over once you’re done.
4) Rub the meat-side with a few drops of olive oil.
5) Fire up a large, heavy-based pan on medium heat and add 1 tbsp of olive oil as soon as the pan reaches its max heat.
6) Place the salmon inside, skin side down, once throwing a sideways glance (Or a piece of bread) at the oil makes it sizzle up.
7) Very gently press down on the meaty side for about 30 secs to keep it down.
8) Season the topside with salt and pepper and have an eye on it for the next 4-6 mins – to be precise: have a look at the cutting surface on the side giving you a good view of the thickest/tallest part of the piece every now and then.
9) The salmon is done for now once the color has changed from orangey-pink to pale pink and glossy two thirds of the way up through the fillet.
10) At that point, add the butter and garlic to he pan.
11) Flip over the fillets and baste the skinside with the contents of the pan while finishing off the color-change within the following minute or two.
12) Flip the pieces again for one last round through the cooking liquids in the pan, then take them out on a warm plate, cover them with tinfoil to keep them warm and, while you’re on a roll, deglaze the pan with the pastis.
13) Turn the heat down to medium-low.
14) Once it’s reduced to ½ of its previous volume (with the piping hot pan, this takes about 30 seconds, so have the remaining ingredients ready), add the pre-cooked asparagus, herbs and the crème.
15) Give the lot a good flip and allow the liquids to bubble up and thicken up for about 3 mins while the asparagus bites warm up.
16) Taste and season the sauce and have at it with a stick blender if you prefer a really smooth and silky sheen of sauce on your salmon (don’t forget to do that before adding the asparagus).
Assembling the Dish
1) Grab your purée and build a thick and creamy base you can comfortably stack your asparagus pyres up on. Or simply place a dollop on a plate and stack up the veg next to it~
2) Place the salmon fillets on top of the pyres, coat each piece with a generous helping of the sauce and just take a few blinks to decorate the servings with strawberries before digging in.