One of the promises of my book is that I do not call for obscure or expensive ingredients. After all, French women don’t chase around the internet for their cooking, why should you?
So you might raise an eyebrow at the Pernod called for in this recipe. It can, indeed, be expensive if you buy an entire bottle, but in many markets, you may be able to find an airline-sized bottle for a few dollars. Or, find a small bottle of ouzo (the Greek spirit) or anisette. They’re not exactly the same, but they’ll give you the the mild anise-like flavor that’s a hallmark of this elegant one-dish meal.
This recipe is perfect for a cozy dinner for two; and while it looks and tastes like something you’d pay top dollar for at a corner bistro, it comes together very easily. Just get the vegetables and sauce going before you start roasting the salmon, and you can likely have this dish on the table in half an hour.
Roasted Salmon with Pernod Sauce
Makes 2 servings
4 small red-skinned potatoes (about 1/2 pound), scrubbed and quartered
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchstick-size pieces
1/3 cup frozen pearl onions
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup clam juice or chicken broth
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Pernod, Ricard, Pastis 51, or ouzo
2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skin removed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons snipped fresh fines herbes, plus additional for garnish
1/4 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Put the potatoes in a medium-size saucepan with enough lightly salted water to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil, then cook at an active simmer for 10 minutes. Add the carrot and onions and cook until all of the vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes more. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. Drain well.
3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the white wine, clam juice, and 2 tablespoons of the Pernod. Bring to a boil and boil until the mixture is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. While the vegetables are cooking and the sauce is reducing, measure the thickness of the salmon and season with salt and pepper. Combine the olive oil, the remaining 1 teaspoon Pernod, and the fines herbes; rub the mixture all over the salmon. Place in a shallow baking dish, tucking under any thin edges so that the fillets are as uniform in thickness as possible. Roast until the fish flakes easily but is still glistening in the center, 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2 inch of thickness.
5. When the fish is just about done, reheat the sauce. Stir in the cream and bring to a boil. Add the vegetables. Cook, gently tossing, until the vegetables are warm.
6. Spoon the vegetables and sauce into two warmed shallow bowls, arranging the vegetables toward the rim. Place the salmon in the center of the bowl. Sprinkle with fines herbes and serve.