Salmon is the real chicken of the sea. Everyone loves it. It’s healthy, and guiltless, relatively inexpensive, and elegant. This meal is so easy, but it’s the kind of food you could serve to in-laws or bosses. Or, just to yourself, because it tastes good, and you don’t need an occasion to eat good food!
I know, gone are the Mad Men days when a girl is expected to entertain her husband’s boss in the family dining room. We have our own bosses to worry about, and a separate dining room seems a little far-fetched. But at the same time, I don’t think we see each other enough during the week. After work, we think the best way to recover from the day is delivery. But imagine, having your friends over, or some family, for a couple of hours of laughing and chatting and eating. What could be more invigorating? I would make this meal when my dad comes over. To know him is to know he eats salmon with unusual gusto at least three times a week. It’s a treat to have him over for a homemade meal. Now go call your parents, and tell them to come over for dinner tonight!
This is an unusually effortless meal, because the oven does all the heavy lifting. Roast the salmon on a bed of herbs, to flavor it, and right alongside simultaneously roasts the asparagus. Ta da! Both come out of the oven crisp, and tender, and delicious–and at the same time. It’s kitchen magic. On the stove, stir together a little water, sour cream, and mustard until you have a sauce. That’s it. Elegant dinner, done. And the best part is, if you are having company, just double the recipe. It cooks in exactly the same amount of time with no extra exertion on your part. And if it’s just you, then halve the recipe. Again, it all works out the same.
- 2 6-ounce boneless, skinless center-cut salmon fillets
- 1½ teaspoons olive oil
- A handful of fresh thyme stems
- 1 bunch of asparagus
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 4 teaspoons water
Place the top rack of your oven in the second highest position (one down from the top). Preheat the broiler.
Rub each salmon fillet with ½ teaspoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place the salmon on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper (so it won’t stick). Under each salmon fillet, tuck a small handful of fresh thyme stems, so you create a bed of thyme for the salmon.
Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the woody ends of each stalk. Place the asparagus on the parchment-lined baking sheet with the salmon, and toss with the remaining ½ teaspoon of olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on the rack you adjusted under the broiler for 12 to 15 minutes. The top of the salmon with be golden-brown, and the asparagus will be crisp.
Meanwhile make the sauce. In a small sauce pot, stir together the sour cream, Dijon mustard, and water over medium-low heat, just until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
I like to serve this with the sauce poured over the salmon, with the asparagus alongside, and maybe a few boiled potatoes. Serve extra sauce on the side for the veggies.
Buying fish can be daunting. You are looking for fish that is clear (not foggy), bright (not gray), and doesn’t smell like dead fish. Readers have asked me for reputable fish stores. From my experience, Whole Foods has good fish. And in New York, I recommend Citarella, The Vinegar Factory, and Eli’s on the Upper East Side. Don’t forget, you can ask the guy behind the fish counter to do almost anything. So when I say boneless, skinless, center-cut salmon fillets, tell him those instructions, and he will do all the work for you. And they won’t think you’re being difficult.
If you have guests, just double the recipe!
ON THE SIDE
The asparagus in this recipe are built in, which I love. But if you want to add boiled potatoes, here’s how you do it:
Put small boiling potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, or fingerling potatoes in an empty saucepot. Fill the pot two-thirds of the way up with cold water. Put the pot over high heat, uncovered. When the water boils, add salt. Cook until the tip of a knife easily pierces the potato. Depending on the size of your potato, that could take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.
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