Almond-Crusted Copper River Salmon with Leek and Lemon Cream and Roasted New Potatoes with Fresh Herb Pesto
One of the very first things I did when I got back to the beautiful Pacific Northwest was head to Pike’s Place Market and pick up some amazing Copper River Salmon fillets. Seattle has some amazing seafood, and I had been told that Copper River salmon is the best of the best. The season for this wild salmon isn’t very long at only about 3-4 weeks, but as soon as it becomes available you will see signs all over Seattle proclaiming: “Copper River Salmon is here!!!”
You’re probably thinking, so what? What’s so great about this fish? Well, there is a lot to praise about this amazing breed of salmon; the top of the list of course being the flavor. Copper River salmon is extra fatty so it has a smooth, rich, almost nutty taste that is praised as one of the best in the world. Aside from the taste, though, these fatty fish are loaded with Omega-3’s that keep your heart and cardiovascular system healthy, as well as your immune system. You will also get more Vitamin D than a glass of milk when you eat just a 3.5 oz. fillet (source)! Last but not least, these fish are a completely sustainable dining option! Really, could it get much better?
So, what did I do with my beautiful, vibrant red Copper River Sockeye Salmon fillets? I crusted them in almonds and served them up with a very mild lemon-y leek sauce. It was sheer perfection! The almonds complemented the fish’s inherently nutty flavor impeccably, and the creamy sauce added another level of flavor without overpowering the natural taste of the salmon.
The herb-y potatoes on the side were out-of-this-world good as well. The raw herbs brought so much flavor to the party that I will be making them again and again. I think they would be incredible paired with lamb if you just added a little fresh mint to the pesto.
This meal was shockingly good, and Mikey proclaimed it the best salmon he had ever eaten! If you ever make your way out to Seattle, make sure it’s during the end of May or during June so you can experience the sheer awesomne-ness that is Copper River Salmon.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 medium leek, thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (juice of about half a juicy lemon)
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 sliced almonds, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 tbsp grated lemon peel (from about 1/2 a lemon)
- pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets (I used Copper River Sockeye)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add in the leeks and saute for a couple of minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the leeks are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium and stir in the lemon juice for about a minute until the liquid evaporates. Stir in the cream and simmer for about 2 minutes, until slightly reduced.
- Cool slightly and then transfer mixture to a blender. Blend until smooth. Strain the sauce back into the saucepan, pressing on solids to extract all the liquid possible. This part took me a while because I am completely obsessive about getting every last drop, lol. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead, just cover and refrigerate it.)
- Mix the almonds, parsley, lemon peel, salt, and pepper on a plate. Place the flour on a separate plate.
- Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper and then dredge each fillet in the flour, shaking off the excess.
- Brush one side of each fillet with the beaten egg, and then press the brushed side of the salmon into the almond mixture. Set the salmon fillets aside, nut-side up.
- Melt the other tablespoon of butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the salmon to the skillet nut-side down and cook for about 5 minutes until the crust is nicely browned. Turn the salmon over and cook until the salmon is cooked through, about 5 more minutes.
- Reheat the sauce. To plate, spoon sauce onto the plate and then top with a salmon fillet. Garnish with a lemon twist if desired.
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- scant 1/4 cup fresh chives
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp grated lemon peel
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/4 lbs red-skinned new potatoes, halved lengthwise
- In a food prcessor, combine the parsley, chives, rosemary, 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon peel, and salt. Blend until the mixture resembles a coarse puree. (The pesto can be made 1 day ahead, just cover and refrigerate.)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the potatoes with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle generously with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Arrange the potatoes, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Roast until the potatoes are golden brown and tender, about 40 minutes.
- Transfer the cooked potatoes to a large bowl and toss with pesto. Serve.