- 1 lb salmon (with high fat content, ie. Ora King), center cut
- ¼ cup kosher salt + 1 quart water (optional brine for salmon)
- Fennel Oil, recipe follows
- Béarnaise Sauce, recipe follows
- ½ cup fresh tarragon leaves, for garnish
- 2 liters grapeseed oil
- 2 whole fennel bulbs, with fronds
- 1 pint clarified butter
- 3 egg yolks (free-range high quality eggs)
- 1 shallot, grated
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon sriracha (or other hot sauce)
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh tarragon, chopped
- Portion salmon in 6-8 oz pieces, or leave it whole if you have a large enough vessel to cook it in.
- You can brine your salmon in a saltwater solution and it will add more flavor (1/4 cup of kosher salt to about 1 quart of water and make enough to submerge your fish for about 10 minutes).
- Add Fennel Oil to a heavy bottomed pot (dutch ovens work well) and using a candy thermometer or instant read thermometer bring to a temperature of 150 F.
- If you don’t have a thermometer, this should be just below a simmer.
- Once oil is warm enough, gently place your salmon into the oil to cook. This will usually take 8-10 minutes to cook to a medium. Cook more or less depending on the size and thickness of your portions and your preference of doneness. You can also use a cake tester to feel the internal temperature of the fish.
- Flip the fish half way through for even cooking.
- If you prefer a hot preparation serve immediately, but this preparation is also excellent cold or at room temperature.
- To serve, ladle some Bernaise Sauce on the bottom of a plate or platter. Place salmon over the top of the sauce and garnish with tarragon leaves.
- Remove fennel fronds and stems from the bulb. Reserve the bulbs for another use.
- In a large, heavy bottomed pot (dutch ovens work well) pack the fennel fronds into the pot and cover with the grapeseed oil.
- Over a low flame, allow the fronds to steep in the oil for a minimum of two hours. The oil should not reach a simmer or boil during this process.
- You will notice the oil will start to become fragrant, when it does, it is ready.
- Let cool completely and strain, discarding the fronds.
- This can be done weeks ahead of time and can be stored in the refrigerator.
- In a saucepan, warm clarified butter.
- Take a medium size pot and fill with 1/2 an inch of water.
- Find a metal bowl that will sit comfortably on top of the pot without touching the water. This will act as your double boiler to cook the eggs for your sauce. The steam from the simmering water will cook the eggs.
- Bring the water in the pot to a simmer.
- Add egg yolks, shallot, dijon mustard, champagne vinegar, sriracha, salt, and pepper to the metal bowl and whisk everything together until homogenous.
- Place the bowl over the pot with simmering water.
- Whisk mixture over steam rapidly - never let the mixture sit without whisking.
- You will notice the mixture become fluffy and lighter. If you notice that it is getting too hot and the eggs are beginning to curdle, remove the bowl from heat and keep whisking vigorously.
- You can always add a little hot water from the pot to the bowl to help the emulsification.
- There may be a bit of back and forth from the heat to the counter and so on.
- After about 3 minutes, remove the bowl from heat and secure it in place by taking a smaller bowl and covering it with a towel to hold the larger bowl in place while you whisk in the butter.
- Make sure your clarified butter is in a vessel that will allow you to stream it in easily to the sauce base.
- You can use a hand mixer for this part or do it the old fashioned way and get your work out in with a regular whisk.
- Start moving your whisk first and then add a small amount of clarified butter and keep whisking until you notice it has blended in with the base. Once it's blended, stream in a little more and repeat the process.
- Once you get about half way through the butter you can start to add it a little faster. Continue until you have added all the butter. The texture should be velvety and the consistency of thick cream.
- If it gets too thick, you can add more hot water from the pot to loosen it. Do this little by little.
- Finish by folding the chopped tarragon into the sauce and serve.
- *The Bearnaise Sauce can be made about an hour before serving but must be kept warm either on the double boiler or in a warm water bath. If the sauce gets too hot or too cold it will break (meaning the butter will separate from the rest of the mixture).