Poached salmon is one of those classics, like roast chicken, that needs no update, no reinvention. I like this dish best served at room temperature, but it would taste great warm or cold. Tarragon is an underused herb. Its slight licorice, herby flavor is the perfect complement to the poached salmon and would also be a great dressing for any steamed spring vegetables.
For the tarragon sauce:
½ cup fresh tarragon leaves
1/3 cup chopped chives
¼ cup basil
1 large shallot (1 oz) chopped
1 cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Place all the ingredients in the jar of a blender, blend until you have a smooth creamy green sauce, season with salt and pepper to taste. Can be made one day before serving. Place sauce in an airtight jar in the fridge until ready to serve. Shake well before serving.
A few tips from our kitchen: when cooking with wine, be sure to use wines that you would be happy to drink in a glass. In a recipe such as this, where there are so few ingredients, the quality of each really stands out.
2 ½ cups good dry white wine
2 ½ cups water
Half a lemon, thinly sliced
2 sprigs tarragon
1.5 kg (a little over 3 lb) salmon filet with skin on, cut into six or eight equal pieces.
Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper
In a deep 10 inch skillet with a cover, bring the wine, water, lemon slices and tarragon to a boil. While the liquid comes to a boil, season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Once the liquid has boiled, lower the heat to a simmer, place half the salmon in the skillet, cover and cook for eight minutes on a slight simmer. The salmon should flake easily. Remove each piece of salmon carefully to a tray, bring the liquid back to a simmer and cook remaining salmon fillets.
Once the salmon has cooled down, it won’t break apart so easily, and if you choose, you can peal off the skin and remove any dark flesh with a paring knife.
Serve drizzled with tarragon sauce and more sauce on the side.