Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tarragon Salmon

I just read that Tarragon likes a hot sunny spot and is very tolerant of drought and poor soil.  That must be why it's doing so well under my inconsistent care!  My mother-in-law actually turned me on to salmon and tarragon.  She makes a delicious simple dish by painting the salmon with mayonnaise, and seasoning generously with dry tarragon.  Fresh tarragon leaves can also be added to green salad and used in tea (said to cure insomnia.)  I'd like to share two ways I have made salmon with tarragon. 
Baked Salmon Fillets with Tarragon Mayonnaise

This Pesach I made a homemade mayonnaise and added herbs from my garden, mainly tarragon.  Because this has raw eggs, I don't usually try to keep the sauce uncontaminated from the salmon.  I painted Salmon fillets generously with the sauce, let it sit a bit, and reapplied.  Then I baked in the oven as usual.  Do not overcook!  If you are making this for guests, you are better off waiting to start the salmon until your guests arrive, rather than trying to keep it warm in the oven.  Serve with fresh lemon.

Pan Fried Salmon Steaks in Tarragon Garlic Sauce
Tarragon with Pansies
Salmon steaks have skin on the outside and bones running through the middle.  I like them because you don't lose salmon like you do when the fish monger fillets the raw fish.  In addition, Salmon bones are large and in a predictable place.   I find that if I remove the bones from the salmon when it is cooked as a steak I can be more thorough and lose less good meat. 

For this sauce I used lots of tarragon and a generous stem of fresh lemon verbena.  I blended that with salt, pepper, two cloves of garlic, and more olive oil than I normally use for pesto.  Using my hand blender, the garlic became creamy.  Be careful to cross contamination with the raw fish.  The leftover sauce will keep and can be used to dress the cooked salmon.  I pour the sauce on, and then spread it with a silicon brush.
I marinated the salmon steaks in about half the sauce.  Then I put each steak in a wide hot pan on the stove with the sauce they were marinating in.  (The sauce has enough oil so you shouldn't need more.)  I let them cook a few minutes until the bottom side took a drop of color, and then I flipped them.  At this point you can finish them on the stove or cover and move to a warm oven to finish cooking and stay warm until you are ready to eat.
Lemon Verbena - "Luiza" in Hebrew
I blended the leftover sauce with a little Dijon mustard, ground coriander, and lemon juice, and served it with the cooked fish.   I recommend serving this dish with rice or some other side that will benefit from the additional sauce.
When we were ready to eat the fish, I removed the skin and bones and served it like fillets on a nice platter with the above sauce drizzled over it, and lemons on the side.  The whole steaks also make a nice presentation if your guests or family can handle removing their own bones.

You may also like Pan Seared Salmon.


  1. I'm so pleased to see this recipe. I planted some tarragon this year and have NO IDEA what to do with it. This will be just the thing. Thank you!!

  2. Let me know what else you come up with. It seems to grow so well. I'm thinking about rice with tarragon, cumin, fried onions, and raisens. Maybe I'll make that tonight.



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