Grilled Salmon Smothered in Peas and Mint
Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang
I happened to have watched Molto Mario on the Food Network the day before I was having friends over for dinner, and he inspired me. His version of this dish used a fish called porgy, but I loved the idea of the color contrast of the peas with the salmon. You could use northern halibut or just about any good boneless fish. Fresh wild salmon can be ordered on the Internet for next-day delivery if you do not live in a region where you can get it fresh. This dish is equally delicious grilled or roasted—I’ve provided directions for both options.
A Salmon Revival
For nearly twenty years I could not look a salmon in the eye. I had poached close to a thousand whole salmon over the course of my long and youthful career as a caterer. They were lovely and delicious, but I groaned silently every time a client requested salmon. When I started my second restaurant on the waterfront in San Francisco, I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking my salmon days were over. But then our customers requested salmon more than any other fish. I just couldn’t shake it.
But that was before I knew David Tanis, the marvelous Chez Panisse chef who made me realize that a change was taking place in the sea of salmon, and I became born again with my first bite of salmon in twenty years.
Wild king salmon became more readily available from the Pacific Ocean—Alaska to Monterey—and a season was determined, from May 1 to September 30. Like crab, eaten in season from reliable sources—the real thing from the frigid Pacific waters is a far cry from the farmed versions. Wild salmon that contain high levels of the healthy Omega-3 oils fight for their lives—migrating from river to sea and back to the river to spawn. It is from that flight that the great taste of wild salmon is derived. Farmed salmon just doesn’t cut it.
Cooking Methodgrilling, roasting
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
Make Ahead RecipeYes
One Pot MealYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Recipe Coursemain course
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Textureherby, savory
- Four 8-ounce wild king salmon fillets (about 2 pounds), preferably with skin on, or one large slab
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 12 small spring onions (or one large white onion), thinly chopped
- 2 pounds English peas, shelled (about 2 cups)
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 12 mint leaves, thinly sliced
- Lemon wedges
TO GRILL THE FISH:
Prepare a charcoal fire, allowing the coals to produce a medium-hot fire or preheat a gas grill to medium hot.
Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes per side. (To check for doneness, make a small incision in the fish, if it is opaque all the way through, it is done.) It should be taken off the grill a little before you think it is done as it will keep cooking for a few minutes afterwards. You do not want the salmon to be dry.
TO ROAST THE FISH:
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In one or two large, heavy, ovenproof skillets, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. When it gets hot, add the salmon, skin side down. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until you can see that it is turning pale pink. Flip it over carefully with two spatulas (if the skin sticks to the bottom of the pan, scrape it off and discard). Add the garlic and a splash of the wine. Transfer the skillet(s) to the oven and roast the fish for 10 to 12 minutes.
Transfer the salmon to a warm platter. If the skin is still on, peel it off and discard it.
In a medium-sized skillet, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the green onions, peas, and wine. Swirl the pan a few times and add the mint. Once the pea mixture is warm, a couple of minutes, pour it over the fish and serve with lemon wedges on the side.
2005 Peggy Knickerbocker