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Cold Salmon with Cucumber Veil and Avocado and Dill Sauce

Serves: Makes 6 servings


  • Poaching Liquid:
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 4 large, leafy stems fresh dill
  • 2 large, leafy stems fresh parsley
  • 2 thick lemon slices
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic, bruised with knife
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 12 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 (3-pound) whole salmon fillet with skin intact
  • 1 large English (seedless) cucumber, trimmed

  • Sauce:
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  • 12 cup mayonnaise
  • 12 cup plain thick whole-milk yogurt
  • 12 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill, plus 3 tablespoons finely chopped
  • 12 cup coarsely chopped seedless cucumber
  • 3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 firm, ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into 14-inch wedges, for garnish
  • 1 cup small yellow plum tomatoes, for garnish
  • Dill sprigs, for garnish


If preferred, salmon steaks or salmon fillets can be substituted for the whole fillet in this recipe. If using single portions of fish, follow the recipe as directed, but reduce the cooking time by half.

  1. Make the poaching liquid: In a large saucepan, combine the water, wine, dill stems, parsley stems, lemon slices, onion, bay leaf, garlic, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil over high heat. Adjust the heat to a gentle boil and boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Let cool to lukewarm. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer or chinois. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.

  2. To ensure even cooking, the fish and poaching liquid should be almost the same temperature. To achieve this, remove the fish from the refrigerator about 1 hour prior to cooking.

  3. Run your hand over the surface of the fish fillet to locate the pin bones and determine the direction of their growth. Use the tip of fish bone tweezers or pliers to pinch the top of the pin bone and slowly tug at the same angle as the bone. If the bone breaks off, you are pulling in the opposite direction of the growth, so you must reverse direction.

  4. Remove the rack from a fish poacher 18 inches long and 7 inches wide. Lightly oil the rack with the olive oil. Place the fish, skin side down, on the rack. Lower the rack into the empty fish poacher. Gently pour the room temperature poaching liquid into the pan.

  5. Set the pan over two burners and turn them on to medium heat. Cover and heat the liquid, checking under the cover frequently, until a bubble or two comes to the surface. (This will take about 15 minutes). Adjust the heat to medium-low, re-cover, and cook, without boiling, for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the tip of a small knife inserted into the thickest part of the fillet finds no resistance, or the internal temperature registers 130° to 140°F on an instant-read thermometer.

  6. When the fish is cooked, turn off the heat. Place next to the stove a rimmed sheet pan large enough to accommodate the poaching rack. Remove the cover of the fish poacher. With your fingers protected with oven mitts, carefully lift the rack from the fish poacher and place on the sheet pan. (Alternatively, you can place the poaching rack with the fish in the sink.) Let the fish sit on the rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the fish by running a large, flat spatula between the fish and the rack. Then, use 2 long, flat spatulas, or 1 long spatula and 1 shorter one, to carefully lift the fish off the rack and place it on an oval platter.

  7. Thinly slice the cucumber with a chef's knife or mandoline. Arrange the cucumber slices on the surface of the fish in a slightly overlapping pattern to simulate fish scales. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until chilled.

  8. Make the sauce: Scoop the avocado flesh from the skin with a tablespoon, dropping it into a food processor. Add the mayonnaise, yogurt, coarsely chopped dill, cucumber, chives, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne pepper to the processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a bowl. Add the finely chopped dill and stir to blend. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

  9. To serve, remove the plastic wrap covering the fish and garnish the platter with the avocado slices, tomatoes, and dill sprigs. Serve with the sauce spooned over each serving or pass the sauce at the table.

by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing

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