Tuna may be the chicken of the sea, but salmon’s versatility in the kitchen is much more akin to poultry. Salmon can be sautéed, pan-seared, poached, broiled, baked or grilled over a cedar plank. Since it’s divine on its own, accouterments tend to be little more than a sprinkling of lemon and the light aroma of olive oil.
Due to overfishing, today’s salmon falls into two camps: farm-raised or wild-caught. If given a choice, always go wild, as their farm-bred cousins generally have a fattier build. But either way, salmon has a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been known to reduce the risk of heart disease.
“For January, people want healthy items,” says chef Mia Buhl. One half of Buhl & Brown Kitchens in Lake Forest, Buhl prepares gourmet family meals — all natural, all delicious — with chef Elizabeth Brown who, together, share 40 years of experience in restaurants and as private chefs.
Their wild mushroom seared salmon, along with warm French lentils, is one of Buhl & Brown’s daily specials e-mailed to more than 400 people. Their preparation — baking it over a bed of mushrooms — makes the salmon meatier, but it’s quick, taking only five to seven minutes to cook — perfect for the parent on the go.
“The preparation is simple,” says Brown, “but the outcome is greater than the sum of its parts.”
TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes
Warm French Lentils:
1 small onion
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
2 cups dried French lentils
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons walnut oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Prepare the onion pique: attach the bay leaf to the peeled onions using the clove as a tack.
- Combine the lentils and the onion pique in a saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 4 inches and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the sherry vinegar and mustard in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the vegetable and walnut oils to form an emulsion. Stir in the thyme, salt, and pepper.
- When the lentils are fully cooked, drain them and discard the onion. Place them in a bowl and toss together with the carrot, scallions, and the dressing. Taste for seasoning and serve warm.
Wild Mushroom Seared Salmon:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 medium oyster mushrooms, stems removed
4, 6-ounce skinless salmon filets
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Brush a baking sheet liberally with extra virgin olive oil.
- Arrange the mushrooms cap sides down, edges overlapping slightly, in 4 separate rows on the baking sheet (you are going to lay the pieces of salmon atop the mushrooms so your rows should be about the same size as each piece of fish).
- Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. Set each filet round side down (skin side up) atop a row of mushrooms. Roast at 450 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through.
- After roasting, the mushrooms should adhere to the salmon; carefully slide a metal spatula under them and remove the fish from the baking sheet
- Serve mushroom-side up atop warm French lentils.