This is a guest post by Anthony. He helped me prepare the main course during the dinner party I hosted for Camille Styles. Enjoy!
With the big dinner party looming just days away, Rui nonchalantly says "By the way, I haven't planned a main course. Can you think something up?" After saying, "No problem." I frantically started breaking down the event to figure out what type of dish to prepare. Looking over the menu so far, the main course needed to be seafood. It was a warm Texas day, so it needed to have a refreshing element to it. Of course I go for my favorite source of inspiration, The French Laundry Cookbook, with a basic idea of what I'm thinking. Flipping through the pages I come upon "Citrus-Marinated Salmon with a Confit of Navel Oranges, Beluga Caviar, and Pea Shoot Coulis". Salmon and citrus is a great combination and just the inspiration I needed.
Time to Make: 150 minutes * Servings: 4
Finely ground zest from 1 Orange
Finely ground zest from 1/2 Grapefruit
Finely ground zest from 1 Lemon
Finely ground zest from 1 Lime
1/4 cup of Salt
2 tablespoons of Sugar
1 tablespoons of White Pepper
Citrus Marinaded Salmon
24 ounces of Salmon Filet
2 tablespoons of Light Olive Oil
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon white wine viniger
* Preparing the Marinade *
Now that I had my inspiration, it was time to design a recipe. Based on the Citrus-Marinated Salmon, I went with a similar marinade, but chose to change the proportions to include more citrus zest and less salt. This would allow more leniency in the marindate time and hopefully create a more refreshing flavor. The combination of grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime zest with a little sugar and salt is a simple, yet powerful flavor base. I found it best to prepare the marinade ahead of time (even the night before) and let it rest sealed in the fridge. This gives the oils from the zest time to mingle with the salt and sugar more completely.
Use a microplane zester to prepare the zest from each fruit. Then combine all of the zests, sugar, pepper and salt in a bowl.
* Marinating the Salmon *
Living in Central Texas, our fish isn't always the freshest, fortunately it was salmon season. The goal was to get a cut with good marbling and a fairly consistent thickness. We were in luck and able to get a nice fatty chunk of fresh, wild salmon from the store. The French Laundry removes the skin and slow cooks the salmon in an oil bath. While that sounds amazing, I don't have the equipment nor patience for that. Instead, I chose to leave the skin on, trim the thinnest part from the filet (make sure to save it and prepare it as another dish). Take a piece of foil large enough to wrap around the filet, sprinkle half of the marinade in the middle in the shape of the filet. Place the filet skin side down on the marinade and then use the remaining marinade on the top of the fish. Wrap it tight, squeeze it between a pair of plate and put in the fridge for 90 minutes. Be careful not to marinate too long or it will become increasingly salty.
* Orange Confit *
While the fish is marinating, prepare the orange confit. First peel the orange, this part kind of sucks, cause I mean peel them all the way. Remove the peel and the pith and the thin membrane around each slice. Don't worry you have 90 minutes... whew still have like 30 minutes left. Discard the membranes, etc. and place the orange slices in a bowl. Once done with preparing the orange slices, combine the water and sugar over medium-low heat until the sugar fully disolves. Once disolved add the white wine vinegar and bring to a boil. Pour the syrup over the orange slices and let cool to room temperature.
* Cook the Salmon *
With some time to spare, slice up the chives, get out the plates and prepare to cook the fish. When the 90 minutes are up, pull the fish out of the fridge. You'll want to cut the filet into 2 inch slices. In a large stainless, cast iron, or carbon steel skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Start by placing the salmon slices in the pan skin side down. Cook for approximately 4 minutes occassionally pressing gently to ensure full contact with the pan. The salmon should lift geasily from the pan. Start with a corner of the filet, if the skin resists coming up from the pan cook for another minute or so. Once you flip the filets, cook for another 3-5 minutes until the filet center reaches 125°. Beware of over cooking or you will get a salty, chalky, leathery filet.
* Bringing it all together *
Start with a layer of Orange Confit in the center of the pan, usually 3-5 slices are enough for the Salmon to rest upon. Place the Salmon filet on top of the Orange Confit with the skin side down. Top each filet with a scoop of Caviar and a sprinkling of chives. Finally finish it with a light drizzle of the confit syrup.