Food & Entertaining - Garden to Table

The mildest member of the onion family is also one of the easiest to use in dishes

Leek & dill coulis with seared salmon

Makes 4 servings

If you’re looking for a different way to showcase fresh, young leeks, this is it. It’s wonderful as a foundation sauce for salmon, large scallops, halibut or boneless chicken breasts. Additionally, fry a handful of finely sliced leeks in some hot oil until crispy to serve as a garnish.

Salmon

4  6-oz. (170 g) salmon fillets
2  tbsp. (30 mL) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Rub salmon all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to low, about 275°F (135°C), and place a baking sheet on the centre rack.

Heat a large, heavy frying pan (cast iron is good) until it’s searingly hot (the hotter the better). Working with 2 fillets at a time, put in salmon and cook for about a minute, until seared brown. Brush skin with a bit more oil and turn over. Continue to cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes until skin is crispy. Remove from pan and transfer to the oven to keep fish warm.

Coulis

1  lb. (450 g) leeks, halved, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced (use only white and pale green parts)
3  tbsp. (45 mL) unsalted butter
1  tbsp. (15 mL) olive oil
11⁄4  cups (300 mL) chicken or vegetable stock
11⁄4  cups (300 mL) whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper,
to taste
1  tbsp. (15 mL) chopped fresh dill

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, then blanch leeks for about 2 minutes; remove and immediately plunge them into cold water. Transfer leeks to a sieve and press down with the back of a spoon to release as much water as possible. (Rinse and dry the sieve, as you’ll need it again later.)

In a large saucepan or skillet, melt butter with oil over medium heat. Add leeks, then reduce heat slightly and gently cook them for 10 minutes, being careful not to let the leeks turn brown.

Add stock and continue to cook for about 8 minutes. Add cream, stirring well. Bring to a very gentle boil, then immediately reduce heat to low; simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour mixture into a blender and purée for a couple of minutes, then scrape mixture into sieve placed over a bowl. Using a sturdy rubber spatula or wooden spoon, press solids through, scraping the underside of the sieve as you work (or use a food mill). Season mixture with salt and pepper.

If coulis is too cool, reheat gently in a small saucepan. Stir in dill just before serving.

Spoon a portion of coulis on each plate and top with salmon.

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