A few years ago, a student in one of my fish classes told me about salmon with orange cream sauce. I wish I had his name and contact information so that I could thank him. What a great idea! Orange juice provides a nice tangy kick that the poaching liquid desperately needs. I mix it with a little maple syrup to balance the acidity and match the richness of the salmon. Finish it with a touch of cream, and it's fabulous. The sauce is brothy, but with a nice intensity of flavor without being thick and heavy. Couscous mixed with currants, raisins, cranberries, or some other dried fruit makes a perfect side dish to soak up all that orange sauce. Finally, a poached salmon that even I like.
Fish substitutions: arctic char, steelhead or rainbow trout. Sable and halibut are also delicious cooked this way, but they taste very different from salmon.
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
2 oranges zested and juiced
3 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
4 saffron theads (optional)
4 salmon fillets with or without skin, 6-8 oz each
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup cream
- Bring wine, water, orange juice, orange zest, maple syrup, and optional saffron to a boil in a large skillet that can hold salmon fillets in one layer.
- Season salmon with salt and pepper on both sides and add to the skillet skin side down.
- As soon as the liquid returns to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover the skillet and poach salmon at a bare simmer for 8 minutes per inch of thickness. To test for doneness, separate the flakes in the thickest part with a fork and peek inside. Salmon is done when the flakes separate, but are still translucent in the center.
- Remove salmon to a plate and peel off its skin (it should come off very easily after salmon is cooked).
- Leave 1 cup of poaching liquid in the skillet and pour the rest off. Reduce it by half over high heat, 3-5 minutes.
- Turn down the heat to medium-low. Stir in the cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper and pour over salmon.