Aromatic fennel leaves infuse salmon with their delicate flavor in this simple dish. It's easiest to cook the salmon in a fish poacher, but a large deep frying pan will also work. I like to serve boiled artichokes and Potato Croquettes with the salmon.
Leafy tops and stalks of 2 large bulbs fennel
2 pounds salmon fillet, in one piece
2 bay leaves
5 tablespoons butter
6 large fresh basil leaves
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fill a fish poacher with 1 1/2 inches of water. Place half the fennel leaves and stalks on the poaching rack and lay the salmon skin side down on the leaves. Place the bay leaves on the salmon, and cover with the remaining fennel leaves and stalks. Cover the poacher, bring the water just barely to a simmer, and cook the fish for 8 to 10 minutes, or until it is light pink in color and opaque throughout.
Alternatively, use a steamer basket set in a large frying pan to cook the salmon.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Snip the basil leaves with scissors, add to the pan, and swirl the leaves in the butter for a few minutes with a wooden spoon to release their flavor. Season with salt and pepper.
Carefully lift the poaching rack or steamer out of the poacher or frying pan. Discard the fennel and bay leaves and transfer the salmon to a warm platter. Pour the sauce over the salmon, and serve immediately.
This recipe is from CELEBRATIONS ITALIAN STYLE by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1995.
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