When silky salmon meets peppery spice, your taste buds are treated to the most aromatic— and pleasantly heated— flavors. This is not gentle seasoning. The sharpness of coriander and peppercorns presents a complex range of floral, fruit, and pepper notes. Each type of peppercorn has its very own unique taste, just as each comes with a different degree of spice. The white ones are the harshest of the trio. If you’re sensitive, replace them with milder fennel seeds. The trick to getting the crushed mixture to stick to the salmon is a thin egg wash coating. It acts like edible glue, so the peppercorns and coriander can sizzle in the salmon’s rich juices and turn into a crackling, crunchy crust. A buttery vermouth sauce, smooth, thick, and winy, complements the spices and mellows the overall effect. It’s so concentrated that you only need a drizzle.
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon green peppercorns, lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns, lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon white peppercorns, lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle
1 (12-ounce / 340-g) salmon fillet with skin
1 large egg, beaten
Flaky sea salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white vermouth, such as Noilly Prat, or dry white wine
Mix the coriander seeds with the green, pink, and white peppercorns and spread them on a plate. Dip the skin-less side of the salmon in the egg wash then dip the same side into the spice mixture, pushing gently, so the spices stick to the fish.
In a medium, heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the salmon, skin-side down, and cook for about 5 minutes or until almost halfway cooked through. Carefully turn the salmon over—mind that the spices don’t fall off—and add a little more oil to the pan if necessary. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the salmon for 2 to 3 more minutes, depending on its thickness, or until flaky but still pink inside. Lightly season with flaky sea salt, divide the fillet in half, and transfer to 2 plates.
Place the pan over high heat and add the butter. Once the butter starts to sizzle, add the vermouth and deglaze the pan, using a spatula to scrape any bits and pieces off the bottom. Let the sauce cook for a few seconds, while whisking, then pour it next to the salmon on each plate and serve immediately.
From Eat in My Kitchen by Meike Peters (Prestel, 2016)
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