Barely Cooked Salmon with Leeks and Red Wine Butter Sauce


Cooking salmon very slowly on one side or “unilaterally” is a very refined technique that is very easy to do a home. The rich fish is accompanied by the full flavors of the red wine butter sauce with it’s balance of richness and acidity while the sweetness from the leeks rounds out the dish.

Serves 4


In a small sauce pot, combine the red wine, red wine vinegar, black peppercorns, shallots and tarragon. Bring the wine to a boil and reduce to about 6 tablespoons. Reserve in pot.

Trim the ends of the leeks, remove the tough outer greens and wash thoroughly. Split the leek in half lengthwise and thinly slice the leeks into juliennes; place the leeks in a shallow pot and cover with water and 1 tablespoon of butter. Bring to a simmer, lightly season with salt and pepper and cook slowly until the leeks are very tender, about 10 minutes, adding more water as needed.

Finish the red wine butter sauce by whisking in the remaining butter 1 tablespoon at a time until fully emulsified, season to taste with salt and pepper and strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve and keep warm.

For the salmon, put about ½ cup of water in a pan (just enough to cover the surface); season with salt and bring to simmer over medium heat. Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the salmon in the pan; cook at a bare simmer until the top of the fish is just warm to the touch (about 5-7 minutes).

Meanwhile, gently reheat the leeks in the cooking liquid. Spoon the leeks onto each plate, remove the salmon from the pan and drain each fillet on a towel. Place a salmon fillet on top of each bed of leeks. Sprinkle tarragon, black pepper and shallot over each fillet. Spoon sauce around and serve immediately.



½ cup red wine
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon black
1 shallots, minced
4 sprigs tarragon
2 leeks
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skin
- fine sea salt and freshly
   ground white pepper

The Garnish:

1 teaspoon sliced tarragon
1 teaspoon cracked black
1 teaspoon finely minced