This dish is a natural for entertaining because everything can be done in advance.
- Four 5-ounce portions wild salmon fillet, preferably Alaskan keta or coho
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tablespoons)
- 1/2 head green cabbage, cored
- 2 carrots, shredded (1/2 cup)
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted (See NOTE)
- 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
- Freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange (no more than 1/2 cup)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Leaves from 1 bunch cilantro (about 2 1/2 cups loosely packed), coarsely chopped
Arrange a single layer of the fillets in a medium skillet, then barely cover them with cold water. Add the thyme sprig and a few drops of the lemon juice; season generously with salt. Cook over medium-low heat to poach the fish slowly. Check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer; when the water registers about 170 degrees (this will take 20 to 22 minutes), remove the pan from the heat. The fish will continue to cook as the water cools. When the water is close to room temperature (this will take about 15 minutes), place the whole skillet in the refrigerator to cool completely (this will take about 1 hour).
Shred the cabbage as thinly as you can and place it in a large bowl. Mix well with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour to draw out a lot of the moisture in the cabbage. Drain the cabbage and return to the bowl, then stir in the carrots, raisins, almonds and the remaining lemon juice.
Combine the mustard and orange juice in a blender and season lightly with salt. Remove the center knob of the blender lid. Begtin to puree on low speed, then gradually add the oil (as needed) in a steady stream (through the lid opening). The mixture will begin to emulsify and turn into a thin sauce.
To assemble: Add the cilantro to the slaw, tossing to combine. Divide among individual plates.
Remove the fillets from the poaching liquid, pat dry and set one piece of salmon top of each portion of slaw. Discard the poaching liquid. Drizzle a spoonful of the sauce over each portion just before serving.
NOTE: Toast the almonds in a heavy, dry skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are lightly browned and begin to smell toasty. Watch carefully; nuts can burn quickly. Cool before using.
Adapted from "For Cod and Country," by Barton Seaver (Sterling Epicure, 2011).
Tested by Sarah Meyer Walsh.
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