Salmon: the perfect fish for a spring dish

When May rolls around there are usually many simchas such as Mother’s Day, showers and confirmations on the calendar.

Recipes for producing the perfect dish to make your event special, without too much fuss, are always in demand, and salmon offers the perfect solution. Besides being delicious, versatile and simple to make, this rosy pink fish has healthful, omega-3 fatty acids.

Salmon lends itself to many cooking methods, but I’ve found that for feeding a crowd, poaching it in advance and serving it at room temperature or cold is the easiest and most foolproof. The work is done well ahead of your guests’ arrival so there are no fishy odors lurking in your house.

You can cook a large quantity of salmon at one time. (I can poach about 16 fillets in two large skillets.) Following the master recipe for poached salmon are several tasty sauces and a side salad to pair with it.

Poached Salmon | Serves 6

1/3 cup water
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 fresh parsley sprigs
1 fresh thyme sprig
6 6-oz. center-cut salmon
fillets with skin
Combine 1/3 cup water, wine, shallot, parsley and thyme in large skillet. Place salmon fillets, skin-side down, in skillet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover skillet tightly and simmer over medium-low heat until salmon is barely opaque in center, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer salmon to platter; discard wine mixture. Cover salmon with plastic wrap and chill until cold, at least 4 hours.
Place 1 salmon fillet on each of 6 plates. Serve with any of the following sauces.

Watercress-Mustard Sauce | Serves 6 to 8

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped watercress leaves
1 Tbs. coarse-grained Dijon mustard
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
In a small bowl combine all ingredients until well blended.

Fennel Relish | Serves 6 to 8

1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped fennel
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/3 cup chopped radish
1 1/2 Tbs. light sour cream
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste.

Mango and Red Pepper Salsa | Serves 6 to 8

1 small mango, peeled, pitted and diced
3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
4 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tsp. drained capers
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.

Potato and Arugula Salad | Serves 8

3 lbs. small, red skinned potatoes, cooked, cooled and sliced
3 cups arugula leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 cups frozen peas, cooked, cooled and drained
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. grainy mustard
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
In a large bowl combine first four ingredients.
In a small bowl whisk together remaining ingredients until well blended. Toss with potato mixture.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Rebecca Ets-Hokin. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].