Although salmon is not a native Italian fish, and is rarely seen on restaurant menus in Italy, it lends itself well to Italian preparations. In this recipe, the salmon is baked in a pouch, which is an easy and forgiving way to cook fish, ensuring it will turn out moist and flavorful. The presentation is impressive and your guests will ooh and ahh both when they see it as well as when they taste it. Giuliano uses aluminum foil rather than parchment paper because it is much easier to seal.
When we designed our home kitchen we wanted a kitchen that allowed us to be with our guests while we were cooking. We also designed it with the idea of having cooking classes where people could easily participate and see Giuliano cooking. For quite some time we have been getting requests for hands-on classes in the US. so last winter we started offering intimate classes in our home. Our sessions begin with a group of strangers who, after preparing a full Italian meal and sharing it together at the table have become friends by the end of the class.
Recently, two of our students were long-time personal friends. One was Andrea Hillebrand, exceptional Sarasota photographer, who took pictures and was generous enough to let us use some of them for this blog. The other was Carolyn Vioni, Giuliano fan extraordinaire. Not only has Carolyn taken countless classes from Giuliano in Sarasota, she and her husband Ron have also joined us at our cooking school in Italy twice. As he does for any student who has taken courses with him, Giuliano wanted to create a menu that Carolyn had not had previously. In Carolyn’s case it was particularly challenging, but she assured us that Giuliano had succeeded.
For this class, the menu was: Spaghetti alla Norma, Aromatic Salmon, Braised Baby Artichokes , and Prosecco and Clementine Sorbet. These were preceded by an aperitif of Prosecco and accompanied by Bruno Giacosa’s Dolcetto d’Alba. Giuliano showed the students that preparing the meal is a recipe in itself. Rather than focus on one dish, he used the time while something was cooking to prep for another.
He showed the students why peeling tomatoes was important and to do it easily. He also taught the students how to dice onions with the least amount of tears, how to get the tenderest parts from an artichoke, and how to sharpen their knives.
Everyone had a great experience. We receive e-mails and notes afterwards from the students telling us how much they enjoyed themselves and look forward to taking future courses. Our next course will be in February. Maybe we will see you there or, for the ultimate food & wine experience, in Italy.
Aromatic Salmon in a Pouch
(From “How to Cook Italian” by Giuliano Hazan)
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Total time from start to finish: 1 hour
Serves 4 people
3/4 pound fresh ripe tomato (about 1 cup diced without seeds)
3 tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons fresh oregano
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds skinless salmon fillet
extra wide heavy duty aluminum foil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1. Preheat the oven to 400° on convection heat setting, or 425° on the regular bake setting.
2. Peel the tomato, remove the seeds and cut into 1/2” dice.
3. Finely chop the parsley and garlic. Coarsely chop the oregano and mix with the garlic, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, and the olive oil. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
4. Butterfly the salmon fillet by slicing horizontally along its thicker side so that the fillet opens like a book. Spread the mixture from the previous step on the inside and outside of the salmon fillet.
5. Tear a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around the fish completely. When you seal the foil later there should be enough room around the fish for the steam to circulate while it cooks. Place the fish in the center and add the white wine. Spread the diced tomato over the fish and sprinkle the remaining parsley on top. Season with salt and pepper and seal the foil making sure not to leave any openings. Place the pouch on a cookie sheet and put it in the preheated oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on how thick the fish is. If you are unsure whether the fish is cooked or not, it’s perfectly okay to partially open the pouch and check with a fork to see if it flakes. When it is done, gently open the foil taking care not to spill the juices. Lift it out of the baking pan and slide the contents into a serving dish. Serve at once.