Poached salmon with horseradish and caper aioli

This recipe is compliments of Chef Annie Mahle. Annie and her husband Jon Finger own and operate the J. & E. Riggin, a 120-foot wooden schooner that sails out of Rockland, Maine. Their family, which includes their two daughters, offers a variety of windjammer cruises along the Maine coast.

Like her husband, Annie has a captain’s license, but you’re most likely to find her in the galley preparing meals on her antique woodstove for up to 30 sailing guests. Check out the schooner’s website to see next year’s schedule.

But first, check out her recipe for poached salmon — a perfect dish for the holidays. Here’s what Annie has to say about the recipe and cooking, in general.

It’s time for families to come together over a big meal at some point this week. If you find yourself simply craving a lighter meal for your immediate family, this menu will provide that as well, although it is easily increased for a crowd. When cooking for a crowd, there’s always the dilemma of not wanting to have much leftover, but dreading that there won’t be enough.  I always err on the side of too much rather than too little food. If you do find yourself with leftovers, there’s satisfaction in them becoming part of at least two or three meals the following week.

The aioli is easily morphed into either a dressing for stout greens or a condiment on a turkey burger or roast beef sandwich with perhaps some Havarti with dill and sliced red onion. The salmon, of course, could become all sort of meals – hash with poached eggs, rillette on toasted brioche, broken over a salad with steamed potatoes (and a little aioli for the dressing.) The options are endless.

If you are serving a crowd, this menu could be rounded out with steamed red potatoes slathered with butter and sprinkled with dill or parsley. A tangy beet or cucumber salad would add even more color to an already beautiful meal and give another vegetable for those who are feeling the need for lighter, brighter meals.

Poached salmon

Lemon Poached Salmon with Horseradish and Caper Aioli

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of salmon, skin removed and cut into 4 to 6 salmon filets
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; about 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons white wine
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • several  grinds fresh black pepper
  • very thin slices of cucumber or lemon or dill sprigs for garnish

Directions

  1. Drizzle the lemon juice, olive oil, and white wine over the salmon in a large skillet and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Turn the heat to medium-high and cover.
  3. As soon as the liquid is giving off steam, turn down the heat to the slightest of simmers.
  4. Simmer for 5 to 6 minutes covered or until the salmon is just slightly darker pink in the center. Timing will vary depending on thickness of the filets.
  5. Garnish with cucumber slices, lemon, and/or dill sprigs.
  6. Serve with Horseradish and Caper Aioli or see note below about a delicate pan sauce.

Serves 4 to 6

If instead of 4 to 6 people, you are serving a crowd, poaching a whole side of salmon may be the way to go. You’ll need a pan long enough to hold the whole side, ideally one that is 1- to 2-inches deep. It’s helpful if this pan is attractive enough to bring to the table as transferring the whole salmon to a platter is a challenging matter. However, a pan such as this, a fish poacher, has few other uses in the kitchen and I’ve often found a baking sheet with 1-inch sides will suffice. You’ll want to cover the ensemble loosely with aluminum foil and increase the cooking time somewhat.

For a delicate pan sauce that is quick and easy, omit the olive oil from the above recipe. When the salmon has finished cooking, gently drain any juice from the pan and carefully transfer the salmon to a serving platter. Garnish with very thinly sliced cucumbers, lemon or dill sprigs. Strain the pan juice into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and whisk in two or three pats of butter and some minced dill or chervil. Adjust for salt and pepper and serve immediately.

If you want a sauce that’s a bit more rich, try this delicious recipe:

Horseradish and Caper Aioli

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; about 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon caper juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • several grinds fresh black pepper

Directions

  1. In a food processor mince the garlic. If you have a large food processor, mince the garlic by hand as the large processors are not always able to do a good job – the cloves just end up bouncing around in the canister.
  2. Add egg yolks and horseradish. Ever so slowly, with the motor running, add the oils. Once you can see it begin to incorporate, you can increase to a good steady drizzle.
  3. Add the lemon and caper juice in a steady drizzle and then lastly, add the capers and black pepper with a couple of quick pulses.
  4. Adjust if necessary for salt and acidity.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Some holiday advice from Annie

Enjoy your time with each other. Laugh often, give each other the benefit of the doubt, appreciate the good you see in those you love (and the ones that are harder to love) and allow your meals together to be something that creates connection.

I’ll have another recipe from Annie on Monday. In the meantime, get more recipes and insight into her family’s exciting life on her blog At Home & At Sea.

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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.