Beautiful summer berry salad. Creamy poached salmon served with tart raspberries, peppery rocket, and a zingy dressing of tarragon, ginger, lime and chilli.
Poaching refers to a method of cooking food by immersing it in a pan of simmering liquid. Because water cannot exceed 100°C/212°F, this insulates the food from direct heat. It is a much gentler way of cooking, so is best suited to foods that have a delicate texture or flavour, such as fish or poultry. Three elements are required for poaching food:
- a cooking liquid: stock, milk or water
- an acid: wine, vinegar or lemon juice
- aromatics: onions, carrots, celery or fennel, and herbs
Cooking over direct heat, such as grilling or frying, exposes the surface area to aggressive heat. This creates a tasty browned crust from the caramelised meat sugars, but can also result in over-cooking and a tough, dry interior. Poaching cooks the food evenly throughout, ensuring that the interior stays nice and moist. Because the meat is not browned, the flavour is more subtle – some would say bland. For this reason, the poaching liquid should contain plenty of aromatics, and the food should be served with strong flavours. I love the interplay of aniseed tarragon, tart raspberries and creamy salmon in this recipe.
Tips & Tricks
- Poach the salmon with the skin on – this will stop the flesh from breaking up
- Add dressing just before serving – this stops the salad leaves from getting limp and soggy
- Toss with your hands – this is the most effective way to evenly coat the leaves in dressing
for the poached salmon:
- 500g salmon fillets, skin on
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 shallot, peeled and diced
- 1 celery stick, sliced
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- tarragon stalks (left over from the leaves in the dressing)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
for the salad dressing:
- grated zest and juice of 1 organic lime (about 2 tablespoons)
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon, leaves only (replace with dill if you cannot find)
- thumbnail-sized piece of ginger (5g), peeled and grated
- 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
for the salad:
- 1/2 cucumber, peeled, chopped in half lengthways and sliced
- 150g strawberries, chopped into halves or quarters (depending on size)
- 100g raspberries
- 25g pine nuts (or 40g pecans)
- 4 large handfuls of rocket leaves (about 35g)
- Poach the salmon. Put all the poaching ingredients except for the salmon in a saucepan (carrot, shallot, celery, white wine vinegar, tarragon, salt and pepper). Add enough cold water so that the salmon fillets will be covered by about an inch when added. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer gently for 5 minutes.
- Lower in the fish, and then replace the lid. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until cooked. Carefully remove the fish using a fish slice, being careful not to break up the flesh. Leave to cool on a plate for a few minutes. If you like, you can gently peel off the skin (although it contains a lot of nutrients, so is worth eating!). Reserve the poaching liquid for making stock.
- Toast the pine nuts. Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and lightly toast until brown in patches – about 3 minutes. Set aside.
- Assemble the salad. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jam jar, and shake vigorously until blended. Just before serving, pour half of the dressing over the rocket leaves and cucumber, and toss until evenly coated using your hands.
- Carefully transfer the poached salmon to a serving plate using a fish slice. Add the rocket leaves and cucumber, then top with the strawberries, raspberries and pine nuts. Drizzle over the remaining dressing.