Cookbook Profile

Crisp Salmon
with Warm Potato Salad

Serves 6


Crisp Salmon with Warm Potato Salad Searing fish in a hot frying pan to produce a crisp, browned surface is a popular technique among California chefs. To prevent the fillets from overbrowning before they are done, chefs finish the cooking in a moderate oven. The method works best, I find, with a fatty fish such as our Pacific king salmon.


Potato Salad
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup (1 oz/30 g) minced green (spring) onion,
   white and pale green parts only
1 tablespoon chopped capers
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 lb. (500 g) small boiling potatoes, unpeeled, quartered

3 teaspoons olive oil
6 skinless salmon fillets, 1/2 lb. (250 g) each
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 lb. (250 q) watercress, thick stems removed
6 lemon wedges


1. To make the potato salad, in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustard. Gradually whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Whisk in the green onion, capers, and tarragon. Season generously with salt and pepper.

2. In a saucepan over high heat, combine the potatoes with salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, checking often, until just tender when pierced, about 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly, then transfer to a large bowl and add the dressing. Toss to coat evenly. Let stand until warm, tossing occasionally so the dressing penetrates the potatoes evenly.

3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Heat 2 large oven-proof frying pans over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1-1/2 teaspoons of the oil to each pan, swirl to coat, and heat until the oil is almost smoking.

4. Season the salmon fillets on both sides with salt and pepper, then immediately put them in the pans, flat side (skin side) up. Cook until golden brown and crusty without moving the salmon, 1-2 minutes; lift a fillet slightly to check the progress. When browned, turn the fillets carefully and transfer the pans to the oven. Bake uncovered until the fillets are just opaque throughout, about 8 minutes. Transfer the fillets to paper towels briefly to drain any fat, then to individual plates.

5. Add the watercress to the potatoes and toss to coat with the dressing. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Divide the salad evenly among the plates. Garnish each portion with a lemon wedge and serve immediately.

Nutritional analysis per serving:
Calories 567 (Kilojoules 2,381); Protein 48 g; Carbohydrates 16 g; Total Fat 34 g; Saturated Fat 6 g; Cholesterol 134 mg; Sodium 249 mg; Dietary Fiber 2 g.

Buy the Book!


The Williams-Sonoma
New American Cooking Series

Time Life Books, 2000
Hardback, $22.95
Color photographs throughout
ISBN: 0-7370-2039-3
Recipe reprinted by permission.





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This page created July 2000