Slow-Roasted Salmon with Soy-Caramel Sauce, Carrot Puree and Crispy Leeks

It is not true that our oven aestivates. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, aestivation is a term from biology, defined as “a state of animal dormancy, similar to hibernation, characterized by inactivity and a lowered metabolic rate, that is entered in response to high temperatures and arid conditions.”

Yes, we grill as much as we can in warmer weather. (Remember, we live in Minnesota.) However, our oven functions all year long. Here is a counter-example to the aestivation theory. Just when everyone else is out grilling salmon, we found an excellent recipe for slow-roasting salmon in the oven. The source is the May/June issue of Eating Well magazine (page 83). The link is here..

The recipe is attributed to Becky Selengut, a chef from Seattle, in her book Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast (2011). Not only is the fish excellent, the sauce and puree accompanying the salmon are stand-alone superstars. For those of you who can’t find the link, we include the recipe here.

Here’s an interesting fact: sake and mirin are both rice wines, but mirin is only a cooking wine, not up to drink standards like sake. Mirin has a lower alcohol content and a higher sugar content than sake. You can find mirin next to the other cooking wines in the grocery store; sake will be on the shelves of a well-stocked liquor store.

Carrot puree ingredients:

1 lb. carrots, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1/2 cup unsalted raw cashews
1 cup boiling water
Pinch of fine sea salt

Leeks and salmon ingredients:

1/2 cup canola oil or grapeseed oil
1 & 3/4 cups very thinly sliced (3-inch pieces), white and light green parts
1 lb. wild salmon, skin-on, cut into 4 portions
1/8 tsp fine sea salt

Soy-caramel sauce ingredients:

1/4 cup sake
3 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces


Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

To prepare carrot puree: Bring 1-inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add carrots and cashews; cover and steam until the carrots are very tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer the carrots and cashews to the blender, add 1 cup boiling water and pinch of salt; puree until very smooth and creamy, 1 tsp 2 minutes. Discard the steaming water and return the puree to the pot; cover to keep warm.

To prepare leeks: Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add a few strips of leek; if they bubble immediately, the oil is hot enough. Add one-third of the leeks, stirring gently with a fork until they start to brown and crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining leeks, in 2 batches, reducing the heat if the oil gets too hot. TRansfer the remaining oil to a heatproof bowl to cool, then refrigerate for another use for up to 2 weeks, if desired. Wipe out the pan.

To prepare salmon: Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the salmon, skin-side down, on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Roast until just cooked through, 12 to 18 minutes, depending on thickness.

To prepare soy-caramel sauce: Meanwhile, combine sake, mirin, soy sauce, lemon juice and honey in the skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat; add butter a piece at a time, whisking until each has melted.

Serve the salmon with the carrot puree, 1/4 cup leeks and 1 tablespoon sauce each.

Serves 4.

Roasted salmon and carrot

Roasted Salmon on bed of Carrot Puree topped with Fried Leeks

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