I have not always been a fan of fish. Probably because when I was younger, fish for dinner meant fish sticks. Not because my mom was a bad cook, but because she had many mouths to feed and fish sticks were a low-priced and plentiful option. So, occasionally, we would come home to a plate of grayish brown fish sticks looking like runaway, breaded Jenga pieces on my plate next to the colorless mashed potatoes. Not appealing at all.
My husband, after much cajoling, finally got me to try “real” fish, and I have been grateful ever since. Not just because fish has so many health benefits with their protein-rich omega-3’s, but because fresh fish is delicious. It’s also simple and quick to make. I try to make fish for dinner at least once a week. My mom would be surprised.
This recipe is not only beautiful in its simplicity, it’s simply beautiful when served. The coral color of the salmon against the bright green of the pea puree is the perfect pallet. It’s an elegant yet easy dinner for guests and a classy and clever dinner for two. A crusty piece of garlic bread would accompany this dish well if you are looking for something to round it out for a dinner party or a hungry man. I like it just this way, virtually unadorned and looking like a piece of art work on the plate. Yum!
Just a personal preference here but, I try to use my fresh fish within two days of purchasing. Freezing fresh fish, although not a health issue, does seem to give it a more “fishy” taste. Which is, after all, what most people don’t like about fish. Fish should not have a fishy smell or a fishy taste.
Salmon with Sweet Pea Puree
2 cups frozen sweet peas
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 salmon fillets
3 slices bacon,diced
salt and pepper
Place frozen peas and garlic in a pot, cover with water and place on medium heat. (The garlic adds flavor to the peas as they cook and as the water heats it takes away the raw flavor of the garlic) As soon as it comes to a boil and the peas have returned to their vibrant green color drain them and place them in a food processor. Add 1/4 cup cream and salt and pepper. Blend until creamy. They will be about the consistency of thin mashed potatoes. Taste to make sure they have enough salt and pepper. Add more if needed. (You could also add butter here, but I don’t think the peas need it.)
I cut my bacon into small pieces before frying so I don’t have to try to touch it when its hot. Plus, it cooks a lot faster. Fry the bacon to a good crisp. It’s going to add a crunchy element that this dish needs. With slotted spoon remove the bacon from the pan and onto a piece of paper towel to remove excess grease. Leave the bacon fat in the pan. Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper, then place directly into the hot pan with bacon fat in it. Leave the fish until it forms a nice, golden crust on that side (3-5 minutes ought to do it). Turn the fish over and crust up the other side. I like my salmon to be a soft pink in the middle but if you like yours to be a little more cooked leave it in the pan for a longer period of time. A good rule of thumb is to feel it with some tongs. If it still feels loose or jiggly, it’s still rare in the middle. The firmer it feels, the more cooked it is. Of course, the thickness of your piece of salmon will be a factor, too.
To plate, scoop a generous portion of that green puree in the middle of your plate. Top with a piece of golden, crusty salmon, and sprinkle with bacon bits. Heaven on a plate!