Diary of a Foodie

Slow-Baked Salmon with Avruga Caviar Sauce

Diary of a Foodie: Season One: Salt and Pepper

  • Active Time:20 min
  • Start to Finish:50 min
Moderately priced avruga caviar (smoked herring roe from Spain) gives cooks a chance to throw caution to the wind and experiment. Stephen Harris purées it into a slate-gray emulsion, bringing visual drama and a smoky flavor to delicate salmon. Fleur de sel is a good substitute for his house-made sea salt.
January 2007
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel plus additional to taste
  • 4 (6-oz) pieces center-cut salmon fillet (about 1 inch thick)
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 tablespoons avruga caviar (from a 120-g jar)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 5 oz baby arugula (7 cups loosely packed)
  • 5 oz mesclun (mixed baby salad greens; 7 cups loosely packed)
  • 4 small lime wedges
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 250°F.
  • Spread butter over bottom of a 13- by 9-inch baking dish and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel. Put salmon, skin sides down, in dish and bake, uncovered, until just cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes.
  • About 10 minutes before salmon is done, put crème fraîche in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until just melted. Transfer to a blender along with water and caviar and purée into a very smooth emulsion. Return to saucepan and keep warm, uncovered, over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Thin sauce slightly with a little additional hot water if too thick.
  • Just before salmon is done baking, heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then add greens in 3 batches, stirring and turning with tongs until greens are slightly wilted before adding each new batch, and continue to cook, stirring, until completely wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Push greens to one side of skillet and pour off liquid (discarding it). Divide greens among 4 plates. Top greens with salmon and season lightly with fleur de sel, then squeeze some of lime juice from wedges over salmon. Stir 1/2 teaspoon lime juice into sauce and spoon onto plates.
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