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Do you know that urban cooking myth that the best poached salmon is cooked in the dishwasher? I don’t actually know anyone that’s done it. God only knows what happens to the poor fish once you place it in the machine and switch it on for ‘normal wash’ – hot water from the tap might rain on it, and we don’t want that, having seen all the dead animals floating in the reservoir tank in the loft. There might be a tablet presciently inserted for the next time after the dishwasher was last emptied. The programme might go on for too long, shrivelling the fish to oblivion. No, it’s a non-starter.
Salmon makes a classic dinner party centrepiece, very nice too unless like the poached salmon I was served once or twice: curiously wet and dry at the same time and tasting of nothing at all. Salmon has to have something going for it: a bit of sweet, a bit of sharp, dill is a dream, lemon is a must. And it must not be overcooked so poaching is okay, as long as you spot that ideal moment of crookedness, when it’s still ever so slightly translucent in the very middle, moist and fragrant.
So let’s go for steaming since it’s a more gentle method than poaching (does anyone really find the idea of plunging fish into water appealing? once it's been out of water for a while? me neither). And season it well cause it needs it. And the trick here is to wrap it in cling film to retain all the flavours, rather than let them disperse in the poaching liquid.
This is truly delicious – I had it warm, almost straight from the steamer (bar shooting a few pictures) but it tasted even better the next day, provided you bring it up to room temperature. So yes, a dinner party dish, can be cooked beforehand, will be lovely, your guests will fight for the last morsels. Or just serve it for dinner for the two of you and forget hospitality.
I had a tail end of a salmon side, about a quarter of the whole I guess. If you should want to prepare the whole side, you probably need a poacher. You can steam in a poacher, just build a rack for the fish out of upturned cups or whatever you have that will fit the purpose.
steamed salmonServings: 4-6Time: 30 minutes
- 1/2 side of salmon for two people
- 2 tbsp. teriyaki sauce
- 1 tbsp. sweet plum sauce
- half a jalapeno chilli, finely chopped
- a small bunch of dill, finely chopped
- juice of half a lemon
- 2-3 tsp butter
1. Skin the salmon. Mix all the other ingredients except the butter and spread over both sides of the salmon fillet.
2. Place the salmon on a piece of cling film large enough to wrap it. Dot a little butter on both sides of the salmon, then wrap the cling film around it and seal by twisting and folding over.
3. Prepare the steamer: a pan with a little boiling water and a steamer insert, an electric steamer or a poacher with a rack if cooking a whole side. When the water is boiling, place the wrapped salmon parcel in the steamer, cover with a lid and steam for 15 minutes (12 for slightly less cooked if you prefer).
4. Remove the fish from the steamer with a couple of fish slices, cut the film open with scissors and slide the salmon out. If you’re able to reserve the cooking juices that collected in the foil, pour them over the salmon.