MASTER RECIPE Braised Whole Fillet of Salmon in Wine and Aromatic Vegetables For 6 to 8 servings:
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT SUGGESTED:
A no-stick frying pan for the diced vegetables; tweezers or pliers to remove bones; a lightly buttered baking dish that will just hold the fish comfortably (or an ovenproof baking and serving platter, or, lacking either, cut the fish in half crosswise, and reassemble it after cooking- the vegetables will mask the surgery); buttered wax paper to cover fish.
THE AROMATIC VEGETABLES:
Cook the diced vegetables slowly in the butter until quite tender but not browned- about 10 minutes. Season lightly with salt, pepper, and a big pinch of dried tarragon.
PREPARING THE FISH:
Go over the salmon carefully with your fingers to detect any little bones; pull them out with tweezers or pliers. Score the skin side of the fish. Dust with salt and pepper, and place best side up in the baking dish.
Spread the cooked diced vegetables over the fish, and pour 1/2 inch of vermouth around it. Cover the fish with the wax paper, buttered side down.
May be assembled an hour or more ahead to this point; cover and refrigerate.
BAKING: 12 to 15 minutes at 350F:
Preheat the oven to 350F Set the fish in the lower middle level, and, when beginning to bubble lightly, baste the surface with the liquid in the dish, basting several times again until the flesh feels lightly springy to the touch.
Remove from the oven, and, holding the fish in place with a pot cover, drain the cooking juices into a saucepan. Slide the fish onto a hot platter; cover and keep warm while making the sauce.
AU NATURAL: Braised Salmon Served in Its Own Juices:
Rapidly boil down the cooking juices in the saucepan until almost syrupy. Pour them over the fish and vegetables, and serve.
AROMATIC WHITE BUTTER SAUCE:
The usual and lovely butter sauce of modern cookery can be as rich and buttery as you wish-from 3 or 4 tablespoons to half a pound. Using the preceding boiled-down juices as a base, proceed to beat in the butter as in the lemon-butter sauce for the broiled fish on page 83.
WINEY CREAM SAUCE:
A reasonable and equally delectable compromise is a light veloute sauce made with the cooking juices, then boiled down with cream, as follows. Cook together 2 1/2 Tbs butter and 3 Tbs flour 2 minutes without coloring; off heat whisk in the hot braising juices and 1 cup heavy cream. Boil slowly until reduced to 1 1/2 cups; season carefully.
(Full details for veloute sauce are on page 272.) Either serve the fish cloaked in its vegetables and accompany with the sauce, or fold the vegetables into the sauce and spoon over the fish.
From "The Way to Cook", Julia Child, Alfred Knopf, 1989. ISBN 0-394-53264-3