As its creator Wini Moranville puts it, “With mellow leeks, garlic, and wine to infuse the fish with flavor, and the barest touch of cream to finish the sauce, this dish tastes and feels like elegant classic French fare, but it’s pleasantly light on its feet.”
This dish is incredibly simple yet satisfying with wonderfully sophisticated flavor. As the fish cooks in the sauce, it creates its own stock and the combination of wine and fresh herbs brings a beautiful, refreshing element.
This is one of those meals that you can pull together in the time it takes for the rice to cook; perfect for a weeknight or, perhaps, the weekend with a little tomato and goat cheese crostini to start and some dessert for later 😉
Salmon with Wine, Leeks, and Garlic over Thyme Basmati Rice
Adapted from “The Bonne Femme Cookbook” by Wini Moranville
Don’t forget to check out my Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions at the bottom of the recipe.
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped Vidalia/yellow onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup long-grain rice, such as Basmati
- 3/4 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 (4 to 6-oz) skinless salmon fillets (about 1-inch thick)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large leeks (white and pale green part only), halved lengthwise, rinsed, and sliced crosswise (about 1 1/2 cups, total)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh fines herbes (a combination of parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil)
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- Prep and measure all your ingredients. If you need to skin/fillet the fish, make sure this is complete and then put it back in the fridge until it’s needed. Fish must stay cold until ready to cook or it will spoil.
- Preheat the oven to 425.
- For the rice, warm the olive oil over medium heat in a flameproof, ovenproof pot with a heavy lid.
- Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, but not brown, about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the rice and thyme, stirring to coat all of the rice with oil, and cook for about a minute.
- Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, and a good pinch of salt, stirring to break up any clumps of rice. Raise the heat and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, cover the pot tightly and slide it into the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes (while you cook the fish), until the rice is tender. Let stand, covered, for ten minutes (or until needed).
- Once the rice is in the oven and your timer set, start the fish.
- Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
- Add the leek and cook, stirring, until tender but not brown, about 4-5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, take out the salmon fillets and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds more.
- Add the wine and bring to a boil.
- Place the salmon fillets in the pan, return the wine to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the fish is nearly ready to flake (the thickness of the fish impacts time, so check at 5 minutes and simply re-cover and continue cooking if necessary).
- Transfer the salmon to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Bring the wine back to a boil and let it cook until reduced to about 2/3 cups.
- Swirl in the herbs and heavy cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- By now, your rice should be out of the oven and resting. Fluff it and season, to taste, with salt before serving.
- Serve the fish alongside the rice, topped with as much sauce as you like 🙂
Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions
I always recommend following a recipe the way it’s written before making any changes; your substitutions will work out much better if you know what the food tastes like in its original form and can make educated substitutions. With that, here are my tips, tricks, and substitutions for this recipe:
Fresh Thyme: To substitute with dried, use 1/4 tsp dried thyme.
Salmon: You can replace the salmon with just about any fish, just remember to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Leeks: I have successfully substituted these with Vidalia onions (sweet yellow onions). Simply chop into thin strips (about 1/2″ long and 1/4″ wide) and saute a bit longer, until they start to turn golden. Because these are the basis of the sauce, you want to cook out as much of the obvious onion flavor as possible and add a little caramelization so the flavor is sweet rather than oniony.
Fines Herbes: Generally, use about equal parts of each herb unless you dislike the taste of a particular herb called for. For instance, if you’re like me and don’t like the taste of tarragon or chervil (which both taste like black licorice), reduce the amount of them used or omit them completely and use simply parsley and chives. Though, I highly recommend at least using a small amount because you may like the way a hint of it compliments the other herbs. Also, if you can’t find all of the herbs fresh, combine 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley or 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley and 2 tbsp chopped chives with 2 tsp dried fines herbes.
Heavy Cream: If you can’t fathom using even 2 tbsp of heavy cream, feel free to substitute half and half or even whole milk. Just remember, a substitute will slightly alter the taste and thickness of the sauce. But it will still be wonderful 🙂
Prep: I like to put out a big cutting board, chop up whatever I need to on it, and just keep all the ingredients in separate piles on the board, where I can scrape them up with my knife and into my pan when ready. Then, I just have my liquid ingredients sitting on the counter in liquid measuring cups or, if I only need a tablespoon or so, I have the measuring spoon out and ready to fill when I get to that point.