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Don't Poach That Salmon

August 05, 1993|BEV BENNETT

There are so many ways to cook salmon that it can make a frequent appearance at the dinner table without becoming boring. Most recipes suggest poaching or oven-broiling salmon in the winter and grilling outdoors in the summer.

My favorite year-round cooking method is sauteing. When salmon is dusted with a mixture of flour and herbs and cooked in a little butter, it has a delicate, crisp exterior with a moist interior.

For a meal in literally minutes, saute salmon steaks and serve them with lemon wedges or cayenne-laced mayonnaise on the side. For something more time-consuming but with a great payoff in taste, create a "jam" by stewing onions with tarragon and juniper berries and seasoning with vinegar, sugar and hot pepper sauce. The sweet-pungent herbal onion mixture is a delicious partner to salmon.

SALMON WITH SWEET ONIONS 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 large sweet onion 3 (1-inch) sprigs tarragon 5 to 6 juniper berries 2 (5- to 6-ounce each) small salmon steaks 1 tablespoon flour 1/4 teaspoon ground tarragon Salt Freshly ground white pepper 1 tablespoon butter 1/2 to 1 teaspoon balsamic or Sherry vinegar 1/2 teaspoon sugar Dash hot red pepper sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in deep skillet. Peel onion and cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into thin semicircles. Add onion to skillet along with tarragon and juniper berries. Cook over low heat until very tender, about 15 minutes. Do not let onion brown.

Dust salmon steaks with mixture of flour, tarragon, and salt and white pepper to taste. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter in second skillet. Add salmon and saute over medium heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

When onion has cooked 15 minutes, add vinegar and sugar to taste. Simmer another 5 minutes. Season to taste with hot pepper sauce, salt and white pepper. Remove juniper berries.

Place salmon steaks on 2 serving plates. Top each with half of onion mixture. Makes 2 servings.

ASPARAGUS WITH BROWNED BREAD CRUMBS 1/2 to 3/4 pound asparagus 1 1/2 tablespoons butter 1 shallot, minced 1/2 cup bread crumbs Salt Freshly ground white pepper

Snap tough ends off asparagus and peel if asparagus is thick. Place asparagus in skillet with 1/2-inch water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until asparagus is tender, 8 to 15 minutes (cooking time depends on thickness of asparagus).

Meanwhile, heat butter in small skillet. Add shallot and saute 1 minute. Add bread crumbs and saute until golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Drain asparagus well and place on serving plate. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Makes 2 servings.

Note : To make 1/2 cup bread crumbs, toast 1 slice good-quality white bread. Finely chop by hand or process in food processor fitted with steel blade.

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