This healthy recipe of seared Alaskan salmon with basil oil and snap peas comes from Uncommon Underground, one of Chicago restaurants dedicated to small-scale urban farming and sourcing locally grown ingredients from heartland farms. This recipe is taken from Locally Grown (Agate Midway Publishing, 2012) by Anna Blessing, a story of the modern heartland farm. It explores how sustainable practices—and close ties to high-profile chefs and restaurateurs—have propelled the "locally grown" culinary movement with rich stories of Midwestern farms told through beautiful photography, fascinating anecdotes from farmers and chefs, and up-close looks at what makes each farm so unique.
Seared Alaskan Salmon Recipe
• Basil oil (recipe follows)
• Green Goddess Dressing (recipe follows)
• 1/4 cup (75 g) salt
• 1 cup (145 g) English peas, shelled
• 2 cups (126 g) sugar snap peas
• 4 (6-ounce [170-g]) Alaskan salmon fillets
• About 4 tablespoons (59 mL) oil
• Salt and pepper
• 2 tablespoons minced shallots
• 2 tablespoons blended oil (25% olive oil and 75% canola oil)
• 3 ounces (90 mL) vegetable stock
• 8 large basil leaves
1. Begin to prepare the basil oil the day before serving (it is a 2-day process). Prepare the Green Goddess Dressing the day before serving.
2. Fill a large pot with water and 1/4 cup (75 g) salt and heat to boiling. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Drop the shelled peas into the boiling water for 45 seconds and immediately transfer to the ice water with a strainer. When peas are cool, take them out of ice water, and let dry on a cloth towel. Repeat the same process with the sugar snap peas.
3. Dry the salmon fillets with paper towels. Heat an ovenproof 12-inch (30-cm) skillet for 2 minutes on high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. Season the salmon on the flesh side with salt and pepper and gently place, skin side down, in the skillet. (Do not crowd.) Reduce heat to medium and cook until the salmon starts to brown around the edges. Without turning, place the skillet in a 350°F (180°C) oven and cook about 6 minutes. Salmon will be medium-rare to medium.
4. Remove salmon from the oven and carefully turn the fillets over. Let rest 30 seconds. Remove fillets to paper towels and let rest for 5 minutes. (Fillets will be crispy on one side and tender on the other.)
5. In a separate medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat and sauté the shallots for about 1 minute. Add the shelled peas, snap peas, and vegetable stock. Cook until the stock is evaporated. Roughly chop the basil and add to the skillet. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. To serve, place 2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 mL) of the dressing on one side of each plate. With the back of a spoon smear it across each plate. Divide the vegetables among the plates over the dressing. Place salmon fillets on top of the vegetables. Drizzle basil oil around the vegetables and salmon. Serve immediately. Serves 4
• 2 ounces (57 g) basil
• 1 cup (237 mL) blended oil (25% olive oil and 75% canola oil)
1. On day 1, fill large saucepan half full of water and add a pinch of salt. Heat to boiling. While water is heating, remove basil leaves from stems, discarding stems. Drop basil into water, stir, and immediately remove the basil with a strainer. Run basil under cold water to cool. Carefully, squeeze excess water from basil. Place the basil into a blender, add oil, and process for 1 minute. Store in plastic container, covered, overnight.
2. On day 2, spread out cheesecloth, fold multiple times, and place over a drinking glass. Fasten the rubber band around the rim and let the cheesecloth sag about 2 inches (5 cm) into the glass. Slowly pour basil oil into cheesecloth. Return the basil oil to the refrigerator for a few hours. Strain the basil oil through the cheesecloth undisturbed. (Do not force the oil through cheesecloth or the sediment will get into the finished product, which will make the oil go bad more quickly.) When basil oil has all drained into the glass, discard the cheesecloth.
Green Goddess Dressing
• 1/2 cup (119 mL) mayonnaise
• 1/3 cup (79 mL) sour cream
• 1/2 half avocado
• 1 shallot, minced
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1/4 cup (12 g) minced chives
• 1/4 cup (8 g) minced parsley
• 1/4 cup (8 g) minced tarragon
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
• Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Place the mayonnaise, sour cream, and avocado into food processor and process until well blended. Transfer to a bowl. Add shallot, garlic, herbs, lemon juice, and vinegar, and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This dressing is always better the second day.
For more recipes, check out the article Chicago Restaurant Uncommon Ground Joins the Locally Grown Movement.
Reprinted with permission from Locally Grown: Portraits of Artisanal Farms from America’s Heartland by Anna Blessing and published by Agate Midway Publishing, 2012.