Salmon is a perfect summer main course. It can be poached, roasted or grilled with equally great results. I like to slow-roast the salmon in a 275-degree oven, as it produces a creamy, moist texture. Whether I am serving it chilled or warm, the technique remains the same – I prefer slow roasting to poaching because I find it much easier and there is less cleanup. And the kitchen doesn’t get too hot. There is no need for a poaching vessel; a baking sheet with sides will suffice.
I am often asked what kind of salmon I like best. Well, it depends on what looks and smells the freshest. Farm-raised salmon is available year-round, but many fish lovers reject this type due to its mild flavor. There is also controversy over whether farm-raised fish have higher levels of toxins than wild varieties. I ask my fishmongers what they know about the farm where the fish is raised and whether they have checked on the toxin levels. If I am satisfied with the answer, I will buy it.
If you prefer wild salmon, you are in luck during the summer since both Atlantic and Alaskan varieties are abundant at this time of year. When selecting salmon, check for a slightly sweet odor and firm flesh. Salmon filets may have “pin” bones (tiny bones). These bones are often buried vertically in the thickest part of the flesh. To remove them, press the meat with your fingers and remove any bones that appear. Tweezers come in handy for this job.
A light Asian-style miso and cucumber sauce complements the salmon just right. Serve this with a simple rice pilaf flavored with peas or zucchini and chopped cilantro for a satisfying quick dinner. To drink, why not try a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a California Viognier or a fruity, slightly sweet Riesling?
Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. Contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com
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