Monday, March 5, 2012

Crispy Skin Salmon in Portobello-Cream Sauce

Last week my friend Gitanjali and I went for a cooking class at Sur La Table's new upper west side store. We attended a class called '4 Fish Recipes Ever Cook Should Know' with Chef Judi Rose. It was great because it was a hands-on class, not one that we just look at the chefs cook (because we have cooking shows on TV for free if that is what we want!) but we got to cook in small groups and learn hands-on. Plus, Rose kept the class upbeat and fun as we juggled making two recipes at a time, learning knife skills, terms and little tips along the way.

The four recipes we were taught were:
  • Crispy Skin Salmon with Shiitake-Cream Sauce (I used portobello with this recipe at home)
  • Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks with Ginger-Soy Sauce
  • Classic Fish and Chips and
  • Grilled Fish Tacos

Since I am not a big fan of tacos in general, you may not see it being made on this blog. Fish and Chips I grew up eating in Bombay and ate a lot of it while I was studying in Rhode Island, but may not make it at home to just avoid deep-frying, although I absolutely love fish and chips. The salmon and tuna recipes stood out the most for me and they will surely become some of my go-to fish recipes.

To quote from Judi Rose, Leaving the skin on the salmon imparts a great deal of flavor and helps to hold the fillets together. Plus it's incredibly delicious! Use fish tweezers to quickly and easily remove any pinbones from the fillets.

Before I go ahead with sharing this recipe with you, I want to share that even though wild salmon is more expensive and less readily availably, please try cook and eat wild salmon. Farm-raised isn't as good and has less of the value it should. Here is a link which shares more information on it, and a quick search online will give you lots of information.
Buy fish from a fish monger over the packaged fish at the grocery store. And talk to them, ask them what's fresh, what's good and what they recommend today. Work with that. It's always better than coming home with smelly fish.

And fish should not smell! To think of all those years I didn't eat fish because I thought all fish was smelly. So if your fish smells, it's stale. 
Cook it the same day you buy it. And if it doesn't look as good as it should, as bright and fresh as you'd like it to, don't buy it. 

Serves 4
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 (6-ounce each) wild salmon fillets, 1-inch thick, skin-on, pinbones removes, patted dry
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup rice wine
1 medium shallot, peeled and finely minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
12 large (about 3 ounces) fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices (I used portobello mushrooms)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp unsalted butter (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. Wash and pat dry the wild salmon fillets. Season with salt and pepper on both sides (sprinkle the salt and pepper from higher up, so that it seasons evenly instead of falling on the fish in sections)
  2. In a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat until nearly smoking. Place salmon skin side down and cook until skin is crispy, almost 4 minutes, flattening fillets with the spatula to evenly cook the skin.
  3. Flip fillets and continue cooking until the flesh turns pink, another 2-3 minutes. To test the doneness of fish, it should be firm to touch. Be careful not to burn your fingers! 
  4. Remove fish from skillet, place on a baking sheet and tent loosely with foil to keep warm.
  5. Wipe skillet to remove excess oil. Return skillet to medium heat, add butter and heat until it foams.
  6. When foaming subsides, add shallots and garlic; sauté until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. 
  7. Add rice wine to the pan and reduce by half. 
  8. Add the mushroom slices to the pan and season with a generous pinch of salt. Sauté mushrooms until tender, about 5 minutes.
  9. Add cream and lemon juice, stir well to combine, and continue cooking until reduced sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 5–7 minutes. 
  10. Add butter if using and stir gently to incorporate. 
  11. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and additional lemon juice. 
  12. Remove fillets from the baking tray and plate on individual serving plates or as above. Using a ladle, pour 1–2 ounces of the mushroom cream sauce over each fillet. 


  1. Love this, Simran! I'm so glad you liked the class and enjoyed making the salmon recipe.

    Lovely blog - your passion for cooking and food shines through, and great pics too.

    Hope to see you at another Sur La Table cooking class soon!