2000s Recipes + Menus

Saumon PochÉ, GelÉe Japonaise (Cold Poached Salmon with Dashi-Ponzu GelÉe)

Serves 4
  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:1 1/4 hr
September 2008
When delicate cold poached salmon gets topped with a gelée made from dashi—a staple Japanese broth—and citrusy ponzu sauce, it becomes an elegant, umami-loaded showstopper.
  • 7 cups cold water
  • 1 oz kombu (dried kelp)
  • 20 grams (2/3 oz) katsuo bushi (dried bonito flakes; about 11/2 cups)
  • 7 tablespoons bottled ponzu sauce
  • 1 tablespoon agar flakes (preferably Eden brand; see cooks note, below)
  • 4 (6-oz) pieces center-cut salmon fillet with skin
  • Slowly bring cold water and kombu just to a simmer in a 3- to 4-qt saucepan wide enough to accommodate salmon in one layer (do not add fish yet) over medium heat (this should take about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and discard kombu. Sprinkle katsuo bushi over liquid and let stand 3 minutes, stirring if necessary to make katsuo bushi sink. Strain through a sieve lined with a damp heavy-duty paper towel into a bowl, discarding solids. Stir in ponzu.
  • Transfer 2 cups broth to a small heavy saucepan (reserve remainder) and sprinkle agar on top. Slowly bring to a simmer over medium heat, without stirring. Once broth begins to simmer, stir slowly to dissolve any remaining agar, about 2 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a 13- by 9-inch baking dish (it will be about 1/3 inch thick) and cool at room temperature until set, about 30 minutes (agar sets at room temperature).
  • Meanwhile, return remaining broth to cleaned wide saucepan and bring to a simmer. Pat salmon dry and season with 1/2 tsp salt. Remove broth from heat and gently add salmon. Let stand, uncovered, turning once, until salmon is barely cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Transfer salmon with a slotted spoon to a large plate. (Reserve broth for another use if desired.) Discard skin, then cool fish to room temperature, skinned side down, about 30 minutes.
  • To serve, transfer each piece of salmon to a plate. Cut gelée into strips the same size as top of each piece of salmon and place on salmon using a long thin spatula.
Cooks' notes: Agar is a tasteless dried seaweed used in Asia as a gelling agent and stabilizer. To substitute regular gelatin, soften 1 Tbsp unflavored gelatin (from 2 packages) in 2 Tbsp cold water 1 minute, then add to 2 cups hot strained broth, stirring until dissolved. Pour into a plastic-wrap-lined 8-inch square baking dish and chill until set, at least 4 hours. Cut into small dice and scatter over salmon.
Salmon can be cooked 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.
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