Monday, July 18, 2011

Fennel-Smoked Salmon – Over the Top Was Not Over the Top

As I was eating this fennel-smoked salmon recipe, I was also enjoying a baseball game on the radio. During a critical point in the game, one of the players was thrown out trying to take an extra base; a major blunder, which the announcer blamed on, "trying to do too much." I had to chuckle, since I had just done the same thing with the salmon.

We've done a hot-smoked salmon video before, using a simple foil tray to hold and protect the fish, but his time I wanted something more aromatic and edible. It worked like a charm. This was one perfectly cooked piece of salmon.

As I say in the video, had I just served the fish over the simple, yet wonderful tomato salad, I would have had a winner, but I tried to do too much. I thought adding the smoky, caramelized remnants of the fennel would elevate the dish to even more epic levels, but that did not happen.

The fennel was tough and stringy, and after a couple bites it was pushed aside so I could concentrate on how great the rest of the plate was. Not only did the heat seem to toughen the vegetable, but also the fact I'd sliced it with the grain made things even worse. In hindsight, the grilled fennel should have been discarded and some fresh, raw fennel should have been shaved into the salad.

I hope you give this a try, especially if you have problems with salmon sticking to your grill grates. Since the fish never touches the grill here, it's easy on, easy off. Just this feature alone makes the technique worthwhile. Enjoy!

2 salmon filets
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 fennel bulb (aka root, although I don't believe it's actually a root)
cold water plus a teaspoon of vinegar
For the salad:
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
pinch of sugar
juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
fennel tops for garnish

View the complete recipe


Unknown said...

Chef John, I vow to never try anything new! lol... I hope the kids watching will understand Chef John's sarcasm :$

Aditi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chef John said...

I think they will get the humor... btw, it was more facetious than sarcastic! :-)

Anonymous said...

Can you do more desserts? cherry pie?

Anonymous said...

That's why I like reading your stuff John. You are not afraid to make mistakes and tell us about it... And as a bonus, I won't be making the same mistake. More people that learn! :-)

Anonymous said...

What if you tossed the fennel in some oil first? Just enough to coat? Something like an olive oil with low acidity that will "take the heat?" I've done fennel on the BBQ like this and it caramelizes beautifully and tastes sweet. (Granted, I don't slice it that thin.) I don't recall it being tough. Anyhow, just a (humble) thought. Love the cooking technique for the fish!!! Karen

Anonymous said...

As they say in "Once Upon a Time in Mexico", it takes a chef with grande cojones to admit a mistake!

It is no wonder that Chef John is loved in SF and in the nether world of cyberspace, as Chef John refuses to succumb to hubris.

Question: can salmon be slow cooked in the same manner as smoking a brisket, indirect heat but utilizing the smokey flavor of an aromatic wood or will this technique dry out the salmon long before such is fully cooked?

btw-when are you going to do a home made exquisitely tart apricot ice cream recipe perched upon a freshly baked homemade cinnamon biscuit?

PattyinCT said...

Can you smoke on a gas grill the same way? Just wondering as that's all I have access to?

Chef John said...

Yes, it would get dry, that's why the real smoked salmon is cold smoked. That ice cream sounds good!

Chef John said...

No, needs to be charcoal grill.

Anonymous said...

In relation to my earlier post, when I was a child, would spend the summers at my grandmother's. When the apricots came into fruition, out came the wooden hand cranked ice cream maker complete with the rock salt, watery mess but so much fun.. Apricot ice cream with a hard shot of lemon juice, zest interfused into the mixture gave a nice bite to the apricot ice cream.

Used to go to a little british hole in the wall restaurant that had a fresh strawberry smothered in whipped cream dessert topped upon freshly baked cinnamon/sugar dusted biscuits. Food and service was terrible but the dessert made up for the suffering prior to dessert. They had a policy that one could not just order the "dessert" at lunch time.

Monica said...

Smoked anything tastes better cold.

Maya1 said...

I used this recipe as inspiration and used pineapple slices over the direct heat instead of fennel and paired it with a sweet spicy chili glaze and it was phenomenal! There are so many delicious ways to use this BBQ technique, thanks Chef John!

Chef John said...

LOVE it!!

Extra Virgin Chef said...

I appreciate the candour and honesty, seldom seen or read in food blogs.

Michael said...

Chef John, what if you blitzed the smoked fennel into the citronette, that might give you the flavour but improve the texture.

Michael said...

Chef John, what if you blitzed the smoked fennel into the citronette, that might give you the flavour but improve the texture.