Sorrel Salmon (Saumon à l’oseille)
Sorrel salmon is a recipe I’ve been wanting to make for quite a few years and just never did. The dish was invented by the Troisgros brothers in 1973 France and became the most popular dish on their menu. While now it is considered a modern French classic, Saumon à l’oseille is not all that complicated. You just need to get your hands on some sorrel.
Sorrel is a sour leafy green that kind of resembles over-sized spinach. But that is the extent of their similarities. The plant has a fibrous spine, and eaten raw can make ones mouth pucker. This flavor pairs extremely well with fatty fish like salmon and the end result is a well balanced dish guaranteed to impress.
The dish is surprisingly simple to make, which surprised me as I was reading the recipe. Many French sauces are quite particular but this one is just a quick and easy reduction. I did make one substitution to the original recipe in that I used Lillet Blanc instead of a dry white wine. I found the end result to be so delicious, and it isn’t like Lillet Blanc isn’t French to begin with.
For this recipe you do have to make your own fish stock. Just like with my Salmon Cream Soup I always save the head and skin of the salmon when I butcher it to make fantastic stocks. If you don’t have any salmon scraps you can buy a handful of sardines (or even anchovies) and just boil them until they basically fall apart. Strain and there’s your stock.
The sauce starts by reducing the shallots, fish stock, Lillet Blanc (or dry white wine), and Dry Vermouth (go with Martini, it’s cheap, no need to spend money on something good). Just boil everything together until you get a syrupy sauce.
Once the sauce reduces add the heavy cream and let come to a boil just for a few seconds. Lower the heat and add in the finely chopped sorrel. Stir everything together and add a few drops of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Then turn off the heat.
The salmon is extremely quick, because just like the Salmon Beurre Blanc, we aren’t cooking the fish completely. You can if you want, but the proper way is to leave the center just a bit raw. So I only cook the salt and peppered fish about 30 seconds on each side, just enough to cook the outside seasonings.
Once the salmon is done, move it to a plate and spoon over the sorrel sauce. You can serve the sorrel salmon as is, or with some French bread or side salad. As you can see I chose the end of the fish and that’s because it is the thinnest. The original recipe calls for pressing the fish between parchment paper to flatten. I skipped that step and just used the thin part of the fish.
- 500 grams Salmon patted dry, then salt and peppered. Use a thin part of the salmon to keep the cooking time short.
- 80 grams Sorrel finely chopped
- 50 ml Heavy Cream
- 50 ml Dry White Vermouth Something cheap like Martini, no need to buy a good brand.
- 100 ml Lillet Blanc or a dry white wine
- 100 ml Fish Stock homemade from boiled salmon scraps
- 2 Shallots finely chopped
- 1/2 Lemon
- 40 grams Butter
- 1 pinch Salt
- 1 pinch Black Pepper freshly cracked
- In a saucepan add the vermouth, Lillet, fish stock, and shallots. Boil until you get a syrupy liquid.
- Add the heavy cream and let boil for a few seconds, then turn the heat down and add the chopped sorrel. Stir everything together with some lemon juice, salt and pepper and turn off the heat.
- In a pan on high add the butter and when melted add in the salmon. Cook for just 30 seconds per side, so the inside is still raw. You can cook it fully if you don't eat raw fish, but the proper way is just a quick sear on the outside but overall undercooked to keep its softness.
Sorrel Salmon (Saumon à l’oseille)
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