Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lemon-Tarragon Salmon with Pan-Grilled Asparagus

One of my favorite musicals is the classic A Chorus Line. Simply staged with songs that stick in your head. The last time I saw it was on Broadway, several years ago where day-of TKTS discount tickets found us sitting in the front row at the side of the stage. Especially memorable because Mario Lopez was playing the director Zach, and he spent part of the show in front of our side of the stage with his tight and toned backside at eye level and temptingly within grabbing distance. We refrained, but it might have been touch-and-go there for a bit. ;-) 

What does A Chorus Line have to do with Nigel Slater's Lemon Tarragon Cod Salmon? It reminds me of a song in the show-- "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three" --where the character Val isn't getting jobs and swipes her audition card to see that while her dancing rates her a ten, her looks only get a three. That's my score for this dish--the fabulous flavor rates a ten but the appearance of the curdled sauce gives it a two or three in looks. (The reason why you aren't getting a lot of pictures of it.) It's not really Nigel's fault, he mentions that the sauce naturally curdles slightly in the directions and I most certainly helped it along by being cheap thrifty and using the Greek yogurt I had on had to thicken the sauce instead of buying the crème fraîche called for. I think it would have curdled less with the crème fraîche or even plain heavy cream. Still, the salmon (I replaced the cod with it), was mouthwateringly moist, tender, and flavorful cooked in the butter, lemon and tarragon and the sauce slightly tangy, rich and perfect for both the fish and the pan-grilled asparagus I added to it.   
Nigel says, "A mild and gentle fish supper for a summer's day."

Lemon-Tarragon Salmon
Adapted From Nigel Slater via
(Serves 2)

The Recipe: Put 350g (about 12 oz) of cod fillet (I used salmon), cut from the thick end of the fish, into a large, shallow pan with the juice of two lemons, 40g of butter (1.4 oz) (I used about 1 tablespoon) and half a small bunch of tarragon, chopped. Add a bay leaf and six black peppercorns, then bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for about 10 minutes until the fish is opaque. Remove the fish with a fish slice and keep it warm. Add the remaining half-bunch of tarragon, chopped, a teaspoonful of capers (I doubled the capers) and three tablespoons of crème fraîche. (I used Greek yogurt)

The Trick: Check the texture of the fish constantly. It is ready when a large flake of fish can be easily prized away from the next, but should remain firm and snow white. The sauce naturally curdles slightly.

The Twist: Try the same recipe but use salmon instead of cod, and use a bunch of chervil instead of tarragon. Gurnard is also a possibility, as is haddock, and keep it plain and simple by using flat-leaf parsley.

Notes/Results: Nigel suggests the tarragon with cod and matching chervil with the salmon but I can never find chervil here and I love tarragon with any fish. The tarragon gives the sauce such great flavor and of course, I always love my capers and tossed in extra. ;-) I did reduce the butter to about a tablespoon just because I didn't feel I needed the additional fat and calories. Although the appearance of the sauce was not great, the texture was fine. As mentioned above, the salmon was sublime and my pieces took about 12 minutes. You can see how moist it was in the photo. I may continue to pan steam/poach my salmon with a lemon, tarragon, bit of butter mixture, as even without the sauce, it was yummy.

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs--a chance to cook any Nigel Slater dish or a dish from any previous IHCC chef. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post. 


  1. This sounds great! With cod it'd be a very unappetising plateful.

  2. Greek yogurt does seem to curdle much more easily than most milks...not sure why. Although to be honest, I really don't think the dish looks half bad. In fact, it looks mostly good!

  3. Lemon and tarragon is a wonderful combination and complement to both the fish and the asparagus. I wouldn't have known your sauce was curdled if you hadn't mentioned it!

  4. A lovely dish, Deb! The salmon looks really moist and flaky, just as I like them. Serving it with aspagarus, is just perfect!

  5. Couscous & ConsciousnessMay 22, 2014 at 11:32 PM

    I love that "Dance - Ten, Looks - Three" - I've certainly made a few dishes that fit that bill. Having said that, this still looks mouth wateringly delicious to me. I love the flavouring of tarragon with salmon and love the addition of the capers and asparagus.

  6. I am swiping that quote, too. I could use it to qualify 99% of my photos! I think yours looks appetizing. I need some recipes that use tarragon but love that this is versatile!

  7. I like the taste of tarragon, mine is doing better than chervil in the garden.I wait for summer to try this ;-)

  8. Oh goodness Deb, you had me laughing while reading. Mario Lopez is definitely a 10 and then some ;) I tend to favor creamy recipes, such as this one, so to me this looks rather mouthwatering. I think this sauce seems better suited for salmon than cod. I can definitely see why you chose to go with the salmon!

  9. Grace-Life can be simpleMay 26, 2014 at 10:37 PM

    Deb, I love how you tweak the recipe accordingly. Your salmon definitely look appealing with the cream and asparagus. My kind of thing!!


Mahalo for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love reading them and they mean a lot!

All advertising, spam, inappropriate (or just plain rude) comments will be promptly deleted. I do appreciate your right to free speech and to your opinion but I'm not into mean, rude, or mean snarky (non-mean snarky is just fine!) ;-)