This recipe is designed for use with a sous-vide water bath system. It also requires the use of a vacuum food sealer.
Grapefruit sections and reduced orange juice provide sweet and acid notes that complement both the vegetables and the salmon. By cooking salmon fillets vacuum-sealed in a sous-vide water bath system, the omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients remain in the fish, rather than leaching out or evaporating, as they might when cooked traditionally. Similarly, the artichokes, carrots, fennel and mushrooms that accompany the salmon essentially braise in their own intensely flavored natural juices.
Brining the salmon briefly helps prevent unsightly white albumin from forming on the fillets' surface as they cook. It takes only 8 tablespoons of oil to poach these vacuum-sealed salmon fillets, as opposed to the many cups it would take to poach them in a skillet.
Cod would do nicely in this dish as well; just add a couple of extra minutes to the cooking times.
Make Ahead: The (ultra-fresh) salmon and the vegetables can be prepped and vacuum-sealed the day before. The glaze may be made 2 days in advance.
- For the glaze
- 1 grapefruit, preferably red or pink
- 3 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- For the vegetables
- 16 baby carrots, preferably from a farmers market, peeled and trimmed (not baby-cut carrots)
- 4 globe artichokes, trimmed and quartered (see NOTES)
- 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, cut into quarters
- 8 ounces button mushrooms, stems removed, cut into quarters
- 2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices (reserve fronds for garnish)
- 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- For the salmon
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- Eight 5-ounce center-cut, square salmon fillets, pin bones and skin removed
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat a sous-vide water bath to 185 degrees (85ºC).
For the glaze: Use a vegetable peeler to remove strips of peel from the grapefruit, taking care that the rind is free of any white pith. Transfer to a small saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium; cook the peel uncovered for 20 minutes, until it is very soft. Drain and rinse in cold water.
Separate and reserve the grapefruit segments (see NOTES). Squeeze the juice from the remaining membranes into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the orange juice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium; cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, until it is deep orange, syrupy and reduced by half. There will be about 1 1/2 cups of glaze.
Transfer half of the glaze and the cooked grapefruit peel to a blender. Puree on high speed until smooth. Remove the center knob in the lid. With the speed set on low, add the remaining glaze to the blender in a slow, steady stream, then add the oil. Season with salt to taste. Transfer to a jar to cool, then cover.
For the vegetables: Combine the carrots, artichokes, mushrooms, fennel, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Coat the vegetables with oil. Place half of the vegetables in each of two 1-gallon plastic sous-vide vacuum pouches. (Fold back the tops of the bags several inches before filling them to ensure that no debris or moisture will prevent proper sealing.) Place a bay leaf and 2 tablespoons of butter in each pouch. Vacuum seal the pouch, maintaining the vegetables in a single layer.
For the salmon: Combine the kosher salt and cold water in a gallon-size resealable plastic food storage bag. Seal and massage the bag so the salt is dissolved. Add the salmon fillets; seal and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Drain, then rinse the fillets in cold water and dry them on paper towels. Top each fillet with a few turns of freshly ground white pepper. Transfer each fillet to a 1-quart plastic sous-vide vacuum pouch. (Fold back the tops of the bags several inches before filling them to ensure that no debris or moisture will prevent proper sealing.) Pour 1 tablespoon of oil over each salmon fillet. Vacuum seal just until the edges of the pouches outline the fish and it is surrounded with oil. (Too strong a seal will result in mushy fish.) Refrigerate the salmon.
Cook the vegetables in a 185-degree (85ºC) water bath for 50 minutes, then reduce the water-bath temperature to 140 degrees (60ºC). Once the water reaches 140 degrees, add the fish pouches to the water bath for 8 minutes for medium-rare and 20 minutes for the fish to be just cooked through and succulent.
To assemble, reheat the glaze enough to warm it through. Before you empty the bags, blot the outsides dry on a kitchen towel spread on the counter. Divide the vegetables and their juices among 8 large soup plates. Top the vegetables with a salmon fillet (discard the juices left in the bags) and a reserved grapefruit segment or two. Spoon 2 tablespoons of glaze over each portion of fish.
Garnish with fennel sprigs and serve immediately.
NOTES: To segment the grapefruit, use a sharp knife or serrated knife to cut away and discard any remaining peel and white pith. Working over a bowl, slice between the membranes to remove all of the segments, letting them fall into the bowl as you work.
To trim artichokes, dissolve 1 tablespoon of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) in 3 cups of water in a large bowl. Peel and discard the outer 3 layers of leaves from each artichoke; use a sharp paring knife to cut away 2 inches from the top of each artichoke. Cut around the outside perimeters of the artichokes to remove the remaining leaves and then down the stems to remove the tough, bright-green outer flesh. Remove the bottom of the stems. (You can remove the stems entirely if they are too fibrous.) Dip the exposed surfaces in the acidulated water during the process to prevent discoloration. Cut the artichokes into quarters and then slice away all traces of the fuzzy choke from each of the 4 hearts. Place the trimmed pieces in the acidulated water. When ready to use, remove the artichokes from the water and pat them dry on paper towels.
Adapted by Real Entertaining columnist David Hagedorn from a recipe by chef Thomas Keller.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.