Candied Walnut Crusted Salmon with Lemon Zest Vinaigrette

Candied Walnut Crusted Salmon with Lemon Zest Vinaigrette

Ingredients

For the candied walnut butter:

  • 2 cups water kosher salt or plain salt*
  • 1 cup California walnuts, in halves and/or large pieces
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon white corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the salmon:

  • 6 salmon fillets, about 6 oz. each, with skin on kosher salt ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or nonstick cooking spray as needed
  • 6 cups, more or less, spring pea sprouts or mixed tiny salad greens (about 3 oz. total)

*For each step in this recipe, if you use plain salt, use about half the amount as for kosher salt.

Directions

  1. To make the candied walnut butter, bring the water and 2 teaspoons kosher salt to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the walnuts, return to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Drain the walnuts thoroughly, and while they are warm, toss them together in a bowl with the powdered sugar, until the walnuts are coated. In a clean, dry, medium-sized saucepan, heat canola oil over moderate heat to 350ºF. Add the walnuts and fry them, stirring almost constantly with a skimmer or slotted spoon, for about 2 minutes, or until the walnuts are golden brown; be careful not to let them get too dark. With a skimmer or slotted spoon, lift the nuts from the oil and place them on a sheet of parchment paper or foil to cool.
  2. Transfer the walnuts to a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the butter, pepper, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Process for a minute or two, until the walnuts are finely ground and blended with the butter, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Scrape the candied walnut butter into small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside. To make the vinaigrette, place the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, lemon zest, corn syrup, shallots, salt and pepper in a screw-topped jar. Cap tightly, and shake vigorously to blend. Alternately, you may whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside. (If you have extra vinaigrette, it will make a good dressing for another salad.) Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and cover a large shallow baking pan with foil or parchment paper. To prepare the salmon, season the fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. Film a large, heavy skillet with the olive oil, or coat with nonstick cooking spray, and place over moderately high heat. When the skillet is hot, put in the salmon, skin side down. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes, until browned, then turn and cook 1 - 2 minutes more, until browned on that side.
  3. Transfer the salmon, skin side down, to the prepared baking sheet. Spread the prepared candied walnut butter over the top of each salmon fillet, dividing it evenly. Bake about 10 minutes, until the salmon is just cooked through. (After baking, the skin will peel away from the fish easily.) While the salmon bakes, in a large bowl toss the pea sprouts or salad greens with about 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette, then season with pepper and kosher salt to taste. Divide among individual serving plates, or spread on a large platter, top with the salmon, and drizzle the salmon with some of the remaining vinaigrette.