This lesson’s dish is grilled salmon with a quinoa salad and chimichurri sauce. The longest cooking time in this recipe comes from the quinoa, so it is recommended that you begin with that. Additionally, this lesson spotlights a technique for breaking down the salmon.
Grilled Salmon with Quinoa Saladand Chimichurri Sauc
Yield: 4 portions
•4 ea salmon filets, 5 oz each, skin off
•ras el hanout, if desired
•salt, to taste
•black pepper, to taste
•grapeseed oil, as needed
•8 oz red quinoa, cooked pilaf style
•8 oz black quinoa, cooked pilaf style
•1 ea fennel, shaved
•2 ea oranges, supremes
•2 oz dried cherries
•2 oz pistachios, roasted
•1 ea avocado, sliced
•orange juice, as needed
•extra virgin olive oil, as needed
•salt and pepper, to taste
•2 ea bay leaves
•2 ea thyme sprigs
•1 ea shallot, small
•garlic, as needed
•shallot, as needed
•parsley, as needed
•oregano, as needed
•green onion, as needed
•red wine vinegar, as needed
•red pepper flakes, as needed
•olive oil, as needed
Cooking Technique: Quinoa Salad
To cook the quinoa, heat up two pans for the black and red varieties. The black variety should be cooked separately. Heat grapeseed oil to a high cooking temperature. Cook the shallots until translucent, and then add the quinoa, placing the red in one pan and the black in the other. Toast the grains in the oil with the shallots.Add bay leaf and thyme. Add vegetable stock at a 1.5-to-1 ration to the quinoa. Cover and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper before putting the pans in the oven for 20–25 minutes at 350 degrees.
Make orange supremes. Shave the fennel and place the shaved pieces in a bowl.
Cooking Technique: Salmon
To evaluate the salmon, check the eyes, which should be clear, and the gills, which should be removed. Also check its smell. There should be almost no odor. Finally, examine the scales. To prepare the salmon, you’ll need pin-bone tweezers and a very sharp knife.
A salmon is a round fish. To begin fabricating the fish, check to see if its insides have been removed cleanly. Cut under the fin and around the back of the head. Once you reach the spine, make a sharp left turn. Cut through the rib bones all the way down to the spine. Remove the filet. Repeat this process on the other side of the fish.
This should produce two large filets. Clean and dry your work surface. To continue to prepare the filets, remove the ribs with a knife. Remove the fins as well. Look for pin bones in the top third of the fish. Rub them with a knife to make them stand up and remove them with tweezers. Throw the pin bones away and wash your hands.
Remove skin from the filet, including blood vessels near the skin. You can make a small incision and stick a finger in to hold the fish. Cut through with the knife from the tail to the head. Remove the remaining bloodline. Do the same to the other filet. Cut the fish into blocks. Cover and put in the refrigerator.
Cooking Technique: Chimichurri Sauce
For the chimichurri sauce, prepare your grill for medium-heat cooking. Start by heating it. Take a small cloth and roll it up tight, and then tie one end with a butcher’s knot. Wrap the string all along the cloth and tie it at the other end. Cut off excess string. Dip the roll in oil with tongs, and then rub it onto the grill. For this purpose, a linen-like towel works well. It will burn, but not easily.
To test the grill, add green onions in a pan and cook until charred. Use this to figure out the grill’s hot spots and cool spots. The hottest part will be used for the salmon.
Put the charred green onions in a blender. Add cilantro with stems, shallots, one garlic clove, red pepper flakes, salt, and a pinch of sugar. Also add red wine vinegar. Start the blender. Slowly drizzle in oil. Keep the blender at low speed. Halfway through, stop the blender and scrape down the sides of blender. Blend again.
Check the quinoa, removing it from the oven, keeping in mind the lids are hot. Remove the bay leaf and thyme. Fork and fluff the quinoa. Allow the quinoa to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the fennel, cherries, and orange supremes with their juice. Chop the pistachios and add them to the salad. Add both types of quinoa and toss with a large spoon. Add the avocado last. Cut the avocado in halves, open it, remove the seed, and then cut it into quarters. Dice the avocado while it is still in its rind (and don’t cut through the skin). Scrape out the diced avocado with a spoon and add it to the salad. Mix the salad and then season with salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Check the seasoning. Mix and adjust as necessary.
Take the salmon out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before you grill it. To begin grilling the salmon, coat the grilling pan with oil. Look for smoke coming off before the fish goes on. To handle the fish, use a flexible spatula rather than tongs. Season as late as possible, using black pepper and then salt on both sides.
Place the salmon on the pan at an 11 o’clock angle for cross marks. Once the Maillard reaction begins and the fish is beginning to brown, turn the fish to a 2 o’clock angle. When the protein is cooked about halfway through, wait roughly 30 seconds and then flip the fish over. Repeat the angle adjustment on this side. The goal is to have it reach 120 to 125 degrees. Once the salmon is nearly cooked, you can turn off its heat source.
Once everything is ready, plate the quinoa salad first, and then place chimichurri sauce around the edges. Finally, plate the grilled salmon.