What is the best way to prepare salmon fillets to serve cold. I have two sides of salmon (no skin) that I want to cook and then serve cold. How would you do it so that it stays moist and doesn't overcook and get tough. I'll be serving it with maybe some tzatziki type sauce so simple is good.
I like to poach mine in a classic court boullion. You can top that with any sauce you like. If you have a poisonnier, you can do a whole side, which presents nicely.
I always poach my salmon.
Half a side of salmon goes into white wine and water (equal parts) to cover. For each bottle of white wine I use I add a quarter cup of gin, four big pinches of salt, a tablespoon of peppercorns, three sprigs of fresh dill and a bay leaf.
Bring the water to a boil and then turn it off, cover, and put it in the oven for at least half an hour, though you can leave it all day if you need to -- there is no way for the fish to overcook as long as the temperature doesn't go above 170°F.
Remove carefully, drain, and move to a platter for presentation. Cover tightly and refrigerate.
I always cut lemons in half lengthwise and then slice them as thinly as I can into "half-moons" and arrange them like scales on the cold fish. This has the added advantage of hiding any breaks or cuts in the fish (I don't have a pan large enough to poach a whole side).
The link below has a picture -- I had my little niece do the "decorating" this past Christmas.
re: Das Ubergeek
Love those lemon "scales".
I do a Swedish poached salmon but on the stovetop. Rephrased from Classic Scandinavian Cooking.
3 quarts water
1 quart dry white wine
1/2 c white vinegar
3 med. white onion, cut in qtrs (I use 1 onion)
2 carrots, diced
1/2 stalk celery
1 bay leaf
5 sprigs fresh dill (or 1 1/2 T dill seeds)
(I add a T salt & 1/2 t white pepper)
Combine all in a large pot. Bring to boil & simmer, covered, 1 hr. Strain.
Wrap salmon in cheesecloth to hold together. Put enough bouillon in a deep, long kettle or fish boiler, place rack on bottom. Bring to boil then reduce temp to barely simmering. Place fish on rack. Gently simmer 7-8 minutes per pound. Extra large fish may require an extra 5-10 minutes. Remove fish when done and let cool. Unwrap carefully and chill in refrigerator. Arrange on platter & garnish with dill, parsley,lemon. Serve with creamy mustard sauce.
Poaching works best for serving a very moist cold salmon, IMO.
I poach a pound of salmon in just (filtered from the fridge) plain water and in the microwave for 8 minutes. It depends on the thickness, and if one side is much thinner, just fold it over itself to equal the thicker portions. My salmon filets are usually 2" thick. I put enough water to cover about half the fish, cover with plastic wrap, and place it in the microwave without further fuss. The true flavor of the salmon shines.
Sometimes I add a flavor, chicken broth or cilantro or a spice or lemon or what have you. Since it doesn't move around much (like in a boil) you can place disks of citrus on a few leaves of flat leaf (Italian) parsley, (or cilantro or fennel fronds or whatever on top and make a pretty presentation without further fuss. But I often prefer the somewhat creamy salmon flavor on its own and not infused with a flavored broth or applied herb.
And, I would also suggest making the indiviudal serving sizes before you poach. "Cleaner" cut lines then. If an appetizer, I slice raw rish into planks about 3" long, 1-1/2" wide, and about 1" thick. Poach the same way, but leave 1/2" between each piece in the water. Cutting to size before poaching insures the pieces are not gonna fall apart because of the properly flaking grain after cooking.
Timing of the microwave cooking will depend on how many you cook at a time and your particular microwave. I use the high level on the micorwave and a flat bottom, straight sided ceramic casserole dish with sides high enough so the top of the fish does extend above it. That way, the water doesn't overflow in the oven and the plastic often doesn't touch the fish either.
Since poaching in the microwave is literally no-fuss, and since you are serving it cold, you can pretty much use the 8 minute time for one pound of fish and cook just one pound at a time. Take it out, put next batch in. And, the flavor and moistness will last overnight after cooking if you want to make it the night ahead. Just pour out the poaching liquid and cover tightly.
This is our method, and can be used for large parties. Line baking tray with foil, put Salmon filets on tray, for each slab of fish, use 1/2 cup mayo, 2 tbsp dijon, 3 cloves crushed garlic, 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp dill weed, salt and pepper to taste. Spread on fish and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. You can broil, but watch carefully. When chilled, the marinade keeps fish moist and sauce is unnecessary. Good hot, too.