Almond crusted salmon with asparagus and hollandaise sauce

Recipe by Neil Morris - 10 December 2012

salmon-with-asparagus

Region: Navarra

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Oven temp: 80 °C / 175 °F (for warming)

Difficulty: hard

Serves: 4

veg-icon

This salmon and asparagus dish requires careful cooking and a certain amount of technique to achieve perfection but don't let that put you off. The end result is a wonderful dish that is full of soft succulent flavours combined with a satisfying toasted almond crunch!

White asparagus is a speciality in the region of Navarra where much care is taken to keep the asparagus roots under soil to avoid exposure to the sun. This prevents the asparagus turning green and produces a perfectly smooth result with minimum fibre and a just a hint of bitterness to the taste.

If fresh white asparagus is not available, you can buy it ready-cooked in jars and just warm it through carefully in pan. Alternatively you could use fresh green asparagus but the flavour profile would be slightly different.

Salmon with asparagus is a classic combination and this version is refreshingly different and a wonderful way to experience the sublte smoothness of white asparagus!

Shopping list

  • 6-8 white asparagus spears per person (espárragos blancos)
  • 1 onion (cebolla)
  • 1 garlic clove (diente de ajo)
  • 50g blanched almonds (almendres blanqueadas)
  • 3 egg (huevos)
  • white wine (vino blanco)
  • bay leafs (hojas de laurel)
  • saffron (azafrán)
  • 4 salmon fillets (filetes de salmón)
  • black peppercorns (granos de pimienta negra)
  • 150g (5 oz) butter (mantequilla)
  • 1 tbsp single cream (nata ligera)
  • lemon juice (zumo de limón)
  • salt (sal)
  • white pepper (pimiento blanco)
  • tarragon (estragón)
  • hazlenut oil (aceite de avellana)

Method

Begin by preparing the asparagus. Chop off the woody lower ends of the asparagus and then peel off the outer skin with a vegetable peeler. Start peeling from just below the bud and drag the peeler all the way down to the end and then turn the asparagus and continue until all the fibrous skin is removed.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the asparagus for 5 minutes with the lid on. Then turn the heat off and leave in the pan with the lid on to continue slow cooking until done. This should prevent over-cooking the asparagus.

Test the asparagus after another 5 minutes or so; once it is cooked it will be tender but still holding together. If it still feels a bit hard then leave in the pan with the lid on for a few more minutes. Once tender, transfer to warm plates and place in the oven on a low heat.

Tip: If using jarred asparagus, place straight in a pan and warm carefully or place in a pre-heated oven while cooking the fish and sauce.

Put the almonds into a food processor and blend until they are in crumb-sized pieces. Break one egg and put the white in a bowl and reserve the yolk.

Now prepare your salmon. Fill a saucepan with half white wine and half water and add an onion slice, a clove of garlic, a bay leaf, a pinch of saffron (optional) and a few black peppercorns. Bring the liquid to the boil, place the salmon in a piece of musiln cooking cloth and lower into the liquid and cook for about 3 minutes so the salmon is not quite cooked and remove immediately taking care not to bend the salmon. Carefully remove the skin from the salmon, brush with egg white and coat in the almond crust. Place to one side.

Now prepare the hollandaise sauce. Put the white wine vinegar in a saucepan with a few peppercorns, a slice of onion and a bay leaf. Boil and reduce down until about a tbsp of liquid is left and strain immediately into a cold jug. Gently heat 135g (4 1/2 oz) butter in a pan until it is melted but only just warm. Whisk the 3 egg yolks with 15g (1/2 oz) soft butter and a pinch of salt until well combined and creamy. Add the reduced vinegar and whisk over a pan of simmering water until pale and thick; be careful not to get the mixture so hot that the eggs scramble.

Tip: control the heat by removing the bowl from the heat if it starts to get piping hot.

Gradually add the melted butter and continue to whisk hard until all the butter is combined and the mixture is deliciously thick. and warm through. Finally whisk in 1 tbsp of single cream, a dash of lemon juice, some chopped tarragon and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Warm through again and transfer to a warmed serving jug.

Tip: if the mixture starts to split, immediately drop in an ice cube and whisk until the mixture recovers and then remove and carry on.

Now finish the salmon. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a frying pan and fry the salmon almond-side down over a medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes until the almonds start to colour and the fish is just cooked.

To plate up this salmon with asparagus dish. Lay the warm asparagus on your plate, pour over a small amount of the sauce and lay the salmon on top. Finish with a few drops of hazelnut oil. Serve the remaining sauce in a warm jug.

Enjoy this almond-crusted salmon with asparagus and hollandaise sauce!

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