11 May 2014

Poached Salmon with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Last weekend I finally left town for a actual non-working vacation. It had been a full year since such a thing occurred.
I never grew up as a vacation person. Family vacations consisted entirely of lengthy road trips to visit relatives, who were flung in various corners of the U.S. and required 5 to 7 days in the family van to reach. My parents would pack the four of us like sardines into the back of the A-Team style van under rolled out sleeping bags, where we would fall back asleep, leaving them in peace for a few hours until the sun rose. Later we'd play UNO and otherwise entertain ourselves making faces at drivers through the back window. These trips were great adventures as we traded the dense, green humidity of Virginia for the stark expanse of the desert in southern Nevada -- like landing on the moon with its emptiness and clear horizons and geological formations emerging out of the earth.
The Hudson valley is a bit less dramatic. Still, it has its attractions. For one thing, the adage about sleeping better in the country seems to hold true. For another, you can't travel very far without running into an elaborate farm selling produce along with all sorts of wares: jams and honey and maple syrup sure, but also pierogi's (beet! horsradish! farmer's cheese?), a smoked trout purveyor, all varieties of nut milks...
I did my best to be lazy. I laid in bed in the morning and read. I drank coffee on the back patio in my pajamas. I looked at trees and listened to birds. I went for an obligatory hike. I didn't know what to do with myself.

Luckily the house I was staying in had a fully stocked kitchen.
Poached Salmon with Asparagus and Mushrooms
Adapted from Epicurious
Serves 2

2 6-8-ounce center-cut salmon fillets (each about 1 1/2" thick)
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces sliced, stemmed shiitake; or other mushrooms
1/2 cup asparagus
1/2 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper

Place salmon, skin side down, in a large high-sided skillet. Add wine, 2 tablespoons salt, and cold water to cover salmon by 1/2". Cover pan; bring liquid to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, uncover, and gently poach salmon until just cooked through and barely opaque in the center, about 6 minutes. Transfer salmon and 2 tablespoons poaching liquid to a plate; tent loosely with foil.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup salmon poaching liquid and asparagus and simmer until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add cream and bring sauce to a simmer again. Cook until slightly thickened, 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Using a spatula, transfer salmon to a serving plate and spoon sauce and vegetables over the fish. 

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