Sunday, April 09, 2006

Pan-Seared Salmon with Pea Shoots and Watercress

Pan-Seared Salmon with Pea Shoots and Watercress

Once cooked, the salmon and its pan juices become a topping for a tangle of sprightly flavored greens dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. Pea shoots, the clippings from young pea plants, have a mild pealike flavor that blends well with the peppery watercress. They are sold in Asian markets, but if you can't find them, substitute baby arugula, spinach or lettuce. If you'd like, sear the salmon fillets over a fire in a grill instead of on the stovetop.


2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice, preferably from Meyer
3 shallots, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. sugar, if needed
5 cups watercress leaves
5 cups pea shoots

For the salmon:
1 1/2 tsp. salt
8 salmon fillets, each about 1/3 lb. and 1/2 inch
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 Tbs. lemon juice, preferably from Meyer
4 Tbs. water


In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, shallots, salt and pepper. Add the sugar if not using juice from Meyer lemons. Mix until well blended.

Add the watercress leaves and pea shoots to the dressing and turn gently to coat well. Divide the greens evenly among 8 individual plates.

To prepare the salmon, sprinkle the salt in a wide, heavy fry pan and place over medium-high heat until nearly smoking. Add the salmon fillets and sear for 2 minutes on one side. Turn and sear for 1 minute on the other side. Season with the pepper. Reduce the heat to low, then pour in the white wine and 2 Tbs. of the lemon juice. Cover and cook until the juices are nearly absorbed and the fish is halfway cooked, about 3 minutes. Uncover and pour in 2 Tbs. of the lemon juice and 3 Tbs. of the water. Re-cover and cook just until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 3 minutes more. Most of the pan juices will have been absorbed.

Place a salmon fillet on each mound of greens. Increase the heat to high, add the remaining 4 Tbs. lemon juice and the remaining 1 Tbs. water, and deglaze the pan, stirring to dislodge any browned bits from the pan bottom. Pour the pan juices evenly over the fish and serve. Serves 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Casual Outdoor Dining, by Georgeanne Brennan (Time-Life Books, 1998).

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