Log In / Join Now

Dining Tip: Thomas Keller's Citrus-Marinated Salmon

An elegant recipe from the acclaimed chef of The French Laundry and Per Se restaurants

Posted: January 18, 2010

• 9 to 10 ounces salmon fillet, skin removed (see note below)
• Zest of 1 lemon
• Zest of 1 lime
• Zest of 1 orange
• Zest of 1 grapefruit
• Kosher salt, sugar, freshly ground white pepper as needed
• Potato Blini (recipe follows)
• Garden Greens (recipe follows)

1. Grate the citrus zests using a very fine grater, onto a parchment- or waxed paper-lined surface. With the side of a knife, mash the zests into a rough paste.

2. Spread a clean sheet of parchment or waxed paper on a plate or tray. Sprinkle an area large enough to accommodate the salmon fillet or fillets with a single layer of kosher salt. Sprinkle on sugar (1 part sugar to 4 parts salt) and white pepper.

3. Spread half the zest mixture on one side of the salmon and place the fish zest side down on the salt mixture. Spread the remaining zest on the exposed side and sprinkle it with the same concentration of salt, sugar and white pepper as before. Cover the salmon with another sheet of parchment or waxed paper and cover with another plate or tray.

4. If the fillets are thin, they can marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. Otherwise, let them marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, up to 24 hours for fillets 1 1/2 inches thick.

5. Slice the fillets thin, cutting them at a very shallow angle to maximize their width. On a small plate, arrange three slices on freshly cooked Potato Blini and top each salmon-topped blini with a small handful of Garden Greens. Serves 6.

Note: Thinner pieces of salmon marinate faster than thicker pieces. For this menu, Keller used pieces of salmon belly, which is about 1/3-inch to 1/2-inch thick. It marinated in less than 2 hours. Fillets 1 1/2 inches thick can take up to 24 hours.

Potato Blini:
• 1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes (or baking potatoes)
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 1 to 2 whole eggs
• 1 to 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
• 1 egg white (if necessary)
• Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Boil the potatoes in their skins in generously salted water until they are soft. Using a towel or pot holder to protect your hand, peel the potatoes while they are still hot and press them through a sieve or ricer into a large bowl.

2. With a wire whisk, work in the flour, then, one at a time, the whole eggs, crème fraîche and egg white. The resulting mixture should be the consistency of thick pancake batter. A spoonful should slide off the spoon but not be thin enough to spread out. Season with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Note: Potatoes can vary widely in moisture content. Use the minimum amount of whole eggs and crème fraîche at first, then add more only if necessary. Leftover batter can be blended into mashed potatoes for added richness.

3. Using a rounded tablespoon of batter for each blini, cook the blini on a 325š F griddle as you would regular pancakes, flipping them with a spatula once they are lightly browned, after about 1 minute. This should be done at the last minute, if possible, to ensure that the blini stay warm. Makes 12 pancakes.

Garden Greens:
• 1 cup mixed salad greens, washed and dried
• 1 tablespoon citrus juice (lemon, lime, grapefruit or a mixture)
• 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Place the greens in a bowl. Pour the juice, vinegar and oil into a small jar and shake to mix. Toss the greens with just enough of this mixture to moisten them, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Free content: Watch this video in which Thomas Keller talks about his relationship with the legendary Julia Child
WineSpectator.com members only: Try more great recipes from the WineSpectator.com archives


WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.