Monday, January 21, 2013

Crispy Pan Seared Wild Salmon with Fennel and Pernod Butter

This dish is inspired by an appetizer I ate at Gabrielle Hamilton's restaurant Prune in the East Village of New York City. Her's was a small plate of sliced fennel cooked to tender perfection in a Pernod butter sauce and garnished with salmon roe (I think). It was delicious, simple and very unique. This makes a really nice dinner for two with some leftovers for those with self-restraint (we ate the whole platter, of course). My recipe is an adaptation from Bon Apetite.

Pernod Butter
1 Tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted until fragrant
3 Tablespoons salted butter, softened
1 small shallot or about 2 Tablespoons chives, minced
1 Tablespoon fennel fronds (plus more for garnish), minced
1/4 cup Pernod or other anise liquore like zambuca
salt and freshly cracked pepper

The rest...
3 fennel bulbs, sliced thinly (remove fronds and set aside for the butter and garnish)
1/2 cup water

1 pound wild caught Alaskan salmon, with skin
Olive Oil for sautéing

Preheat your oven to 200°F.

In a pan over medium heat, toast the fennel seeds for about 2 minutes, stirring continuously, until then become fragrant. Set them aside to cool off a bit.

Mix the softened butter with the shallot or chives (whichever you have), fennel fronds, Pernod, salt and pepper. Add the cooled fennel seeds. Taste to check for seasoning.

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a pan over medium heat, add one half of the Pernod butter, 1/2 cup water and the thinly sliced fennel. Toss the fennel in the butter sauce and cook covered for about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook for a few more minutes until the fennel is tender but still has a bite. Transfer the fennel to a platter and place it in your warmed oven.

This method will give you delectable, crispy, pan seared skin - Wipe out the pan and add some olive oil. Once it's piping hot, add the salmon, skin side down, and sear for 5 minutes (less if the fillet is very thin). Add the rest of the Pernod butter and then flip the fillets, allowing them to cook for another 2 minutes and absorb the sauce.

Top the fennel with the salmon and any pan juices. Garnish with minced fennel fronds. Try not to eat the whole thing!