Salmon happens to be one of my favorite fish. The coral color alone draws me, but then the melt-in-your mouth texture hooks me completely. Often I hear from people that they don’t care for salmon because it tastes ‘fishy’ to them.
There could be two reasons for this. The first is, of course, that the fish isn’t fresh. We all know what to do about that – be pickier about where and from whom we buy our fish.
The second reason, however, is something we can change. When salmon, and many other omega-3 packed fish, is over cooked, the flavor changes, giving the fish an unpleasant ‘fishy’ smell and taste even though it’s fresh. The trick to cooking fish, and salmon in particular, is to make sure you remove it from the heat before it is completely finished cooking. The final 2 minutes while you are getting everything else to the table will allow the residual heat to finalize the cooking. This gives fish a soft, tender quality that is elegant and luscious.
Thicker pieces of salmon work well for this dish. It’s a bit of a race to get the potatoes cooked before the salmon is overcooked and having center cut pieces of salmon helps as does cooking the salmon potato side down for a longer time. For a little bit of a twist, it’s also possible to sauté the salmon and potatoes separately. Simply use two pans, one for the salmon and one for the potatoes. In this case you would make 2 to 3-inch wide patties and sauté in olive oil over medium high heat.
For the salmon:
2 pounds center-cut salmon, cut into 4 to 6 pieces
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream for garnish (or more) (optional)
For the potatoes:
3 russet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons freshly chopped dill, or 1 teaspoon dried
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the salmon on a platter and rub with the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside. Place a strainer in the sink or over a platter. In a medium bowl, grate the potatoes and place the potatoes in the strainer. Press down on the potatoes to squeeze out any excess water. Return the potatoes to the bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Press the potatoes on top of the salmon about 1/2-inch thick. There may be extra potatoes to make potato pancakes with. Heat a skillet over medium‐high heat. Add the olive oil and carefully place the salmon in the pan, potato side down. Sauté until the potatoes are browned, for about 7 to 10 minutes and carefully turn with a spatula. Immediately put the pan in the oven and bake for another 7 minutes, carefully watching the salmon to be sure that it doesn’t become over cooked. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6 people