Citrus Salmon

They say the Mediterranean diet will make you live forever. Well, perhaps not forever, but at least until 90 (which is a synonym for forever, if I’m not mistaken). Whenever I hear the word Mediterranean, I have this mental image of sun-kissed Sicilians, their skin browned and bare. They have sea salt in their hair and olive oil on their lips. They are happy because they live in the sun and by the sea.

Of course, we can’t all live in Sicily. We can’t all have sun and ocean waves. But we can eat the foods of the sea, and the fruits of sunny orchards. This recipe is a triple threat of Mediterranean basics – fish, citrus fruit, and olive oil. It’s both simple and vibrant with color and flavor. It begins with the fresh juices of those tangy jewel-toned citrus fruits. This is as labor-intensive as this recipe gets – it’s all down hill from here. And personally I kind of enjoy squeezing oranges, lemons and limes. It’s somewhat satisfying to mush those plump little fruits to a pulp.

Citrus Relish 2

After you’ve squeezed the fresh tangy life out of your citrus fruit, you throw it on a the stove for a bit. It reduces down to something even more beautiful – a thick nectar, an elixir of orange, lemon and lime. In to this reduction you’ll throw the mild oniony flavors of crisp shallots and fresh chives. Then a good dose of olive oil ties it all together into a vinaigrette fit for the gods.

Citrus Relish 4

Then all that’s left is the fish. It’s not difficult to prepare salmon. I like to keep things simple. Anybody whose ever eaten a good piece of salmon sashimi will attest to this – the salmon is already delicious in its raw, natural state. Your only job is to enhance the flavor already there. Which is why it’s enough to add a brush of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and then in to the oven it goes. I try to catch my salmon at that sweet spot where the center has only just cooked through. Right on the cusp of underdone, the fish is sweet and tender and lovely. Of course this requires attention and a bit of luck.

Citrus Salmon 2

Then you just spoon that gorgeous relish right over the plump pink salmon, and you’re done! It’s as easy as that. There’s so much flavor packed in to the rich, savory fish, the crisp shallots, the pleasantly sour citrus juices … your eyes just might fly open when you take your first bite.

Citrus Salmon 3

Ingredients

  • 2 lb salmon fillet
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 small bunch fresh chives, minced
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Method

To make Citrus Relish:

  1. Combine orange juice, lemon juice, and lime juice in a small saucepan
  2. Simmer over moderate heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes
  3. Transfer citrus reduction to a bowl and allow to cool somewhat
  4. Whisk olive oil into cooled reduction until well combined
  5. Add shallots and chives and stir to combine
  6. Whisk in salt and pepper to taste

To make Baked Salmon:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
  2. Line or grease a large roasting pan
  3. Rinse salmon and pat dry with a paper towel
  4. Place salmon, skin side down, on prepared pan
  5. Salt and pepper fillet to taste
  6. Bake salmon until just cooked through, about 10-20 minutes
  7. To serve, plate individual portions of salmon and spoon Citrus Relish on top

Notes

Serves 4

Citrus relish can be made up to one day in advance

Adapted from this recipe by Cathal Armstrong in Food & Wine magazine.

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