I’ve been wanting to do a seafood recipe with the sous vide for awhile. This is actually pretty simple, and I enjoyed the results. But then again… I’m of the opinion that asparagus goes with near everything…)
Salmon, asparagus, cremini mushrooms… and a dash of lime.
The Salmon: I’ve been waiting a while to find good quality salmon… it’s more difficult here on the western end of Massachusetts, so I imagine those far more inland are also prone to difficulties. I did find “sustainably-raised on the Faroe Islands” Atlantic salmon, and went with that for this meal.
The Asparagus: I won’t have a goodly crop of my own immediately, but this is indeed asparagus season. Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables, though I don’t seem to write it up much. You can steam, pan fry, sauté, nuke, bake or boil it. You can add it into other things. Thin stalk tips are even great raw in salads.
I chose pencil-thin asparagus — I like them both, but since for ages I’ve mostly seen the pencil-thin in my supermarkets, I’ve done best by them in the kitchen. (If you have the thick stalks, just cook a little longer. Although I’m not sure how they’d hold up in the pan sautéed situation I used in this recipe.)
The Mushrooms: They were here. Why not? Everything’s better with mushrooms… Maybe not ice cream or chocolate…
In the interests of re-using pans, I opted to pan fry my veggies, to be followed by the searing of the salmon post-sous vide in the same pan.
The Sous Vide: One good thing about sous vide is that one can be a bit more flexible on the timing of how the elements of your meal come together. Once you figure out your personal best temperature for your salmon (or your meat or otherwise of choice), you don’t have to be worried about that sudden phone call, or the cats getting into mischief, throwing your schedule off. There’s a narrow zone between IT’S RAAAAAW and dry and overdone when it comes to fish. Although with fish you don’t want to wait TOO long to retrieve your supper – there’s a point where it will turn into mush, and I’m not interested in sous viding my cats’ food!
That being said, it’s not going to be worth your while to sous vide thin fillets of fish, especially if you want them browned or seared. Might as well just do that to begin with!
The recommended water bath temperature for doing salmon is between 105 F/41 C and 130 F/ 54 C, according to Serious Eats. The lowest of these gives you something like warm sushi…. while I love sushi, I’m not preparing it today, and besides, warm sushi? No. It’s supposed to taste chill. The highest looks the driest, and for me I’m not so interested in that, either. But this may well work well for you. I chose something in the middle, and based my choice on Internet photos and discussions, and personal predilections. I don’t like my salmon all whitish inside quite so much (it’s drier, for one, but a good sauce can go a long way…) My choice for this meal, and it worked out excellently for me, was 120 F/49 C. Your mileage may vary.
One could actually sous vide the asparagus, too. However, all recommended temperatures for most vegetables are at a high enough point that I’m not comfortable setting food in plastic bags, even BPA-free plastic bags, at those temperatures. Not happening at the Goats and Greens household.
Prep Time: 10 minutes.
(Getting your sous vide bath to temp will depend on your unit and the volume of water to be heated…)
Cook Time: 35-75 minutes plus 3 minutes searing max.
Rest Time: Not really needed, but give it a couple minutes.
Serves: 1 happy soul! (Scale up for family/friends!)
Leftovers: Fine. I’d put any leftover salmon (WHAT?) in a salad.
Salmon Sous Vide with Asparagus & Mushroom
- 1 reasonably thick piece of salmon fillet (say, 3/4 inch or 2 centimeters more or less), skin on. Slice or buy 0.65 pounds / 295 grams or thereabouts per person.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 4-5 ounces / 115-140 grams of asparagus (hey, how much do you think, by eyeballing it, you want? Use that!)
- 4-5 ounces / 115-140 grams of sliced Crimini (or other) mushrooms (ditto)
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil (divided)
- 1/2 teaspoon tarragon
- The juice of one lime (or 1/2 lemon, I simply have a surfeit of limes here after Cinco de Mayo…)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Note: feel free to make a special sauce for the above. This time, the recipe about the sous vide and incorporating it into a full (yet Paleo – no grains tonight) meal. I do feel salmon can certainly stand on its own without a sauce if one so desires.
Get the sous vide water bath up to temperature, I chose 120 F / 49 C.
Follow the instructions for cooking sous vide on your machine. Seal up to two of the above sized fillets into each plastic bag, along with the olive oil and the thyme sprig. Move the oil around so it coats the fish – or, easier, vice versa. You can do this through the bag, using your fingers on the outside to manipulate. This supposedly keeps the fish from sticking to the plastic, but I haven’t verified what the lack of oil might do… At any rate, either vacuum seal or water-immersion seal your bag. I describe this latter technique back at my chicken breast sous vide post.
Dunk your bag (or bags!) into the water bath, making sure the fish is submerged, not taking on water like a sad ship, — and relax a bit before prepping the veggies.
While the fish is cooking, do any veggie preps you need: slice mushrooms, snap off the tough asparagus bottoms and either: discard or save for a future veggie stock in your freezer.
For the veggies, I used the butter and two tablespoons of cooking oil in a skillet, tossed them in with the tarragon, salt and pepper, and let them cook until the mushrooms were soft and the asparagus was au dente but not soggy, nor still crispy. I’d say test at five minutes, and let them go further if needed. Stir regularly.
You have leeway on the salmon. You can let fish sit in the sous vide bath for up to 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on the source you read (and the fish). I brought mine out at about 45 minutes, and I wouldn’t go sooner than 35, unless you have a really THIN fillet.
Set the veggies aside, but keep the burner for the skillet on and add the final teaspoon of oil to the skillet, chill down the still-bagged salmon in ice water (I used really cold tap water). UP the temperature on the skillet to medium high.
GENTLY pull the salmon fillet(s) out of the bag. Pat dry with a paper towel, both sides. Depending on the temperature you used, your fillet might have a tendency to flake (fall apart) which is both why we left the skin ON, and why we continue to handle it gently. You want to chill this down a bit, since we will be searing, and we don’t want to overcook the fillet inside, after all this preparation to get the salmon to the consistency we may want… (I discarded the thyme sprig.)
You may want to open windows and turn on fans and the hood vent — although you may not set off your smoke detectors on fish, just depends on sensitivity of your home smoke detectors!! Searing fish is less of a nuisance than searing beef, pork or lamb in the house. You can do it much quicker with fish.
Make sure your skillet is hot, hotter than you’d normally pan-fry anything… place the fish on the newly oiled surface, skin down, for 60-90 seconds.
Flip, for 30 seconds. Gently. At the temperature I chose, there was some desire from edges of the fish to flake off, so being gentle is critical.
Plate the veggies and the salmon, and use the lime juice liberally over the salmon.. and into the veggies. Add more ground pepper as desired.
Serve. Grab fork, knife, and enjoy.
This was great, and with following my precautions, my smoke detectors (which in this new home are pretty state of the art it seems) let out nary a peep! Which is more than I can say for my ventures with sous vide lamb… (Which you won’t see until I can sear it on the grill…) It was a perfect meal, as I don’t eat grains all that often, but adapt as you please. I apologize that I forgot to photograph a cross section of the salmon when it was served. The skin side was properly crispy and enjoyable.