Here’s a recipe with one of my favorite themes: members of the onion/lily family. I’ve shared a couple recipes that kind of function as a study in lilies, another being a spring version with sunflower seed crusted whitefish and trout lily. I borrowed the idea years ago from Mario Batali in his Babbo cookbook–one of the first books I ever owned and tried to cook from verbatim, which was easier said than done.
The original recipe was a rigatoni with “5 lilies” using different alliums or members of the onion family related to lilies. Over the years I’ve done similar things with pastas, salads, and a crowd favorite 5 lily risotto with ricotta salata. I love mixing and matching different onions and cooking them together-they meld into a savory, subtly sweet combination.
This version is quick to make and most of the things can be found in the garden or at your local coop, with the exception of the saffron and lily bulbs, which are optional. In the summer when it’s warm, I tend to eat light food like this, a filet of fish or a small piece of meat, with usually nothing more complicated than a simple pan sauce.
I made this in the heart of salmon season when I was on a healthy fat kick, but a piece of cod, bream, sole, or another flaky white fish would be great with the onion melange too.
Salmon With Six Lilies and Saffron
- Four 5 ounce filets of salmon or another fish of your choice as mentioned above, skin on or off depending on your preference
- 1/4 cup shallot, diced 1/4 inch
- 1/2 cup leek, diced 1/4 inch
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 4 green onions, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch on the bias
- 1 teaspoon fresh cut chives, to garnish
- 1 lily bulb, petals picked and cleaned
- 4 tablespoons cooking oil, like grapeseed
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup vegetable, chicken or fish stock
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and chilled, for finishing the sauce
- Kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper, as needed
- Roughly 12 day lily buds, plus fresh flowers for garnishing
- Tiny pinch saffron threads
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wide saute pan and add the garlic, shallot, and leek on low heat, then sweat for a few minutes, add the wine, saffron and reduce by half, then add the stock and reduce by half again. Add the lily bulbs to the pan, and keep the sauce warm
- Meanwhile cook the fish. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a large saute or cast iron skillet until lightly smoking. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then place the filets in the pan, skin side up (this is the part of the filet that may have flecks of brown on it from being under the skin, if it’s been removed). Cook the filets on high heat until rare, this should only take a few minutes. Don’t worry about the fish being raw, residual heat should get them to about medium-rare before you eat them.
- Quickly finish the sauce by increasing the heat to medium high and adding the lily buds and green onion to the pan. Whisk in the cold butter to make a creamy sauce. If the sauce has evaporated a lot and there won’t be enough for 4 plates, add a tbsp or so of water at a time to loosen it a bit. Double check the seasoning of the sauce for salt, adjust as needed, then put each salmon filet crisp side up on a warmed dinner plate and divide the sauce and onion mixture evenly around the salmon, garnish with the chives and day lily flowers and serve immediately.