This crowd-pleasing salmon recipe has a hint of sweetness from the maple glaze balanced by crispy salty fried tarragon. I served it with a pile of crispy French fries to continue the elegant “comfort food” theme for Valentine’s Day. I believe in the “double fry” to get fries done on the inside, crispy on the outside, and just the right golden color. Add a dollop of Lemon Aioli and some roasted asparagus to round out the meal.
MAPLE GLAZED SALMON with FRIED TARRAGON:
2 cups fresh tarragon, leaves only
12 salmon filets
½ cup olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
For Fried Tarragon:
Heat a pot of peanut oil on medium high until it’s about 350 degrees. Flash fry the tarragon leaves for just about 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer and drain on paper towels. Generously salt with a good quality fleur de sel, and aside until salmon is ready.
For Maple Glazed Salmon:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the salmon with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a large saute pan (with oven proof handle) on medium high heat. Add the olive oil, then the salmon skin side down. (For a larger party, you will need two saute pans.) Spoon the hot oil over the tops of the salmon. It will take 2-3 minutes to get a nice crust on the bottom of the fish.
Add a drizzle of maple syrup on top of each piece of fish. Continue spooning the oil and syrup as the maple syrup begins to caramelize. Transfer the entire saute pan to the oven to finish the cooking - another 3 minutes. Remove hot pan from oven (careful of that hot handle!) and plate each piece of fish, spooning the caramelized pan drippings over each piece. Top with a pile of Crispy Fried Tarragon.
DOUBLE CRISPY HERBED FRENCH FRIES & LEMON AIOLI
6 Russet potatoes
2 bunches basil, leaves only
2 bunches parsley, leaves only
2 bunches rosemary, leaves only
Helpful Kitchen Tools:
Large stock pot
Candy thermometer with clip
Large steel skimmer strainer
To prepare the potatoes, wash the outside well, removing any eyes. Prepare a large bowl of cold water and set aside. Using a mandoline, slice into long thin fries, about ¼ inch thick (or cut by hand as uniform in size as possible). As you slice them, place into the cool water. Let the potatoes soak for 30 minutes or longer. When you are ready for the first fry, drain potatoes well on kitchen towels or paper towels. Wet fries will make the oil splatter so dry them well before frying.
For the first fry, heat at least 3 inches of peanut oil to 325 degrees in a large heavy bottomed pan. Add the fries in small batches and cook for about 5 minutes per batch. They will still be pale at this lower temperature, but it will cook the inside so that later, you can easily crisp them just before serving. Remove with a slotted spoon or large skimmer and set aside on baking sheets lined with paper towels. These will hold all day until you are ready to do the final fry and serve.
To fry the Herbs:
Turn up the heat to 350 and quickly fry the herbs in batches for about 30 seconds to 1 minute and set aside on paper towels.
Second Fry for Fries:
When ready to serve the fries, reheat the oil to 375 degrees, using your candy thermometer to monitor the heat. Add a single fry to test the oil. It should sizzle and bubble at a steady pace. Add the fries in batches so you can keep the oil nice and hot. Fry to a deep golden brown, about 5 minutes, for the second fry. Set aside on a baking sheet.
Combine the crispy fries with the crispy herbs. Season with a good quality sea salt, such as fleur de sel. Serve immediately or keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons, plus 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Dash of Worchestershire
Dash of Tabasco
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
2 cups safflower oil
Combine egg yolks, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, Worchestershire, Tabasco, salt and white pepper into the base of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the oil, in a slow drizzle until incorporated and emulsified. This can also be blended by hand in a mixing bowl, using a whisk. Stores in refrigerator for a week or longer.