Salmon is easy to mess up. When overdone, it can be dry and flaky, but when done right, the fish nearly melts in your mouth. With several ways of preparing salmon, from baking to pan-frying, I opted for a different approach by using sous vide. Really, the technique implies that a water bath will be used to cook an ingredient of choice — in this case, salmon. So after receiving an immersion circulator (coolest tool ever) as a graduation gift from my science mentors, I decided to give Salmon Roulade a shot. By using an immersion circulator, I can control the exact temperature to which the salmon will cook, without worrying about over or undercooking the fish.
For the salmon:
- 3-6 ounce piece of salmon filet
- 2.5 cups of water
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup of salt
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
For the piccata sauce:
- 1/2 cup of white wine
- 1 tablespoons capers
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Combine water, sugar, and salt and whisk until the solution becomes clear (this is a brine). Let the brine cool to 4°C. Feel free to use ice if you’re in a rush.
2. Your salmon might come with skin, so use your awesome knife skills and remove the skin from that bad boy. Also, de-bone if necessary using tweezers.
3. Filet the salmon in half, as the piece of meat will be too thick to roll. You’re aiming for 1/4 inch filets.
4. Place the salmon into the brine and let sit for 20-45 minutes. I left my 6 oz worth of salmon sit for around 30 minutes. If you mix the brine with the salmon in the solution, it’ll turn cloudy from the salmon fat (oops).
5. Next, dry the salmon on paper towels while you spread plastic wrap onto your working surface. Be careful to not wrinkle the plastic wrap.
6. Roll your salmon into a ballotine (basically, a cylinder of meat). Then, use the plastic wrap to roll the salmon cylinder so it maintains it shape. Tightly roll the ends of the plastic wrap, being sure to remove all air bubbles. This ensures that the salmon doesn’t float when cooking. Use butcher’s twine to tie off the ends.
7. Set your immersion circulator to 45°C and drop the ballotines in for 30 minutes.
8. While the salmon cooks, prepare your piccata sauce by adding in white wine and capers into your sauce pan, and then reducing this by half over medium-high heat.
9. Once reduced, add the butter to the pan until melted. Then add olive oil slowly and whisk to form an emulsion (I wish I had pictures here, but emulsifying and picture taking can’t happen together).
10. Add lemon juice.
11. Remove from heat and add parsley leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste.
12. Once the salmon is done, remove them from the water bath. Using a sharp knife, cut the salmon flat, then on a bias to form a shape that looks like this:
13. Set a pan to medium-high heat. Add cooking oil to the pan, and quickly sear the angled side of the salmon until caramelized.
14. Once done, place piccata sauce at the bottom of a bowl, and a piece of salmon on top. If you have a maldon salt (which I don’t), sprinkle a little on top of the fish.
Recipe adapted from ChefSteps’ Fish Roulade, Raymond Blanc’s Salmon Ballotine, and Food Wishes’ “Quick Cured” Salmon