Who wants some 30 minute meals ideas? Meals that don’t require you to rip open a box or have someone else pry open a jar that no way, no how wants to budge for you. Yes, it is possible to have some easy dinner ideas that can be pulled together in 30 minutes or less that don’t require a delivery guy or boxes with powdered mixes. I swear!
I was lucky to run across some fresh wild Alaska King Salmon when I was trolling through my local supermarket recently, so I decided to snap it up and enjoy. Even though I live on the West coast, and they tend to do salmon fishing year round in Alaska, we don’t always have access to fresh, wild salmon. I know the farmed stuff is available fresh, year round, but I don’t like it (for a lot of reasons) and I don’t buy it. (I do buy frozen wild salmon sometimes, if I don’t have some in my freezer that I stashed away during peak season.)
The plan was to make something simple with the salmon and not a regular salmon recipe that tends to make the rounds in my dinner repertoire. So I busted out my handy dandy ring binder to find something suitable. Yes, I am such a geek that I have torn recipes from old copies of Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazine (along with ancient computer print outs of Food Network recipes from chefs/shows no longer on the network) to either make straight up or as an inspiration for new recipes.
This salmon recipe is my spin on an old Bon Appetit recipe for salmon and fennel. I wasn’t in a fennely kind of mood and I had just bought a big pile of leeks…so guess what…Salmon and Leeks with Pernod was on the dinner menu.
What the hell is Pernod you ask? Simply put, it’s an anise flavored (black licorice) spirit. Think of Pernod as the less bat shit crazy cousin of Absinthe (because that’s pretty much its origin). There are several cocktails which use Pernod (one version of the Sazerac does), but most of those cocktails aren’t all that common at your standard watering hole. I keep a bottle of it around because I have a ridiculous habit of keeping interesting bottles of spirits around (just in case) and I like to use Pernod when I cook.
Pernod works really well in fish recipes, so I knew it would work beautifully in this salmon recipe too. Plus, the BA recipe used fennel seeds, bulbs of fresh fennel and Pernod. Since I’m not a HUGE fan of “in your face” anise flavor, I knew that using just the Pernod would give me a nice subtle anise flavor that would work really well with the sweet leeks and salmon. Oh, and since I still have some of my tarragon hanging on in my herb pots (which also has a slight anise flavor), I thought I’d make use of that in this recipe too.
You really can get this whole dish on the table in 30 minutes. The other nice thing about it (as if a 30 minute meal wasn’t enough) is that you can make substitutions for some of these ingredients. Want to use fennel instead of leeks? Go for it. You’d rather use onions instead of leeks or fennel? Sure, not a problem (the dish will be sweeter, but will still taste great). Want to use sea bass or halibut and not salmon? Rock on…both will work just fine.
So get in there and whip this up. This is a fantastic date night dinner that will have him, or her, begging you for more.
- ½ (1/4 Cup) Stick Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
- 1 Large Shallot (minced)
- ¼ Cup Fresh Tarragon (roughly chopped)
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 3 Leeks, White and Light Green Part Only (thinly sliced into half moons)
- ¼ Cup Dry White Wine
- 1 – 1½ Pounds Fresh, Wild Salmon
- In a small bowl mix butter with shallot, 2 tablespoons of tarragon, a pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.
- Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the shallot butter to the pan.
- Once butter has melted, add the leeks and wine to the pan and stir. Cook the leeks until they’re tender (about 8 minutes). Continue to cook just until they begin to turn a light golden brown on the edges. If the pan is getting too dry, add 2 tablespoons of water and stir.
- Remove the cooked leeks to a bowl and set aside.
- Season salmon fillets with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the shallot butter to the pan and add salmon skin side up to the pan.
- Cook salmon for 5 minutes then carefully flip salmon over and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Move salmon over to the side and add leeks back to the empty side of the pan along with the remaining butter and add the Pernod.
- Give the leek mixture a good stir and heat just until the liquid has evaporated then remove from heat.
- Divide leeks and salmon between plates.
- Serve with a few tarragon leaves.
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