In the latest installment of Ludo a la Maison, a traditional French fish dish gets an update.
“I love to take a very, very classic French recipe like this,” says Ludo—in this case, salmon with a citrus cream sauce—and “be a little bit creative, a little bit playful.” Here, a typical lemon-inflected beurre blanc is reimagined with orange, grapefruit and curry-spiced crème fraîche.
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While the sauce reduces, Ludo supremes his citrus—oro blanco grapefruit, pink grapefruit, orange, lemon—and squeezes every last bit of juice from the remaining fruit. Why so much citrus? “Because I live in California,” says Ludo.
The juice joins the shallot reduction and, once evaporated, Ludo mixes in a hefty scoop of crème fraîche. Once the sauce is strained, it resembles a classic French cream sauce—but Ludo sneaks in a pinch of curry powder (“just to make it a little bit more fancy”) before incorporating more citrus segments with an immersion blender.
Next, the fish. “Salmon is a very, very classic fish that we use in French cooking,” Ludo explains. And it’s clear that he has a soft spot for it: “In this country, we get some beautiful, beautiful salmon. The salmon we get in Alaska, they are amazing.”
Ludo demonstrates how to break down the salmon, beginning by removing the bones from the filet with tweezers or pliers. “Make sure to pull up in the direction of the bone,” says Ludo, “and follow the shape of the fish” while trimming. Next, he runs a knife slowly under the flesh to remove the skin, and cuts out the bloodline—“it’s not like it tastes bad, the blood, it just doesn’t look that good on the plate.”
He cuts square slices from the filet, each measuring four fingers wide, and shaves off the tops to achieve an even thickness. Those in search of “the perfect, perfect shape” can also pound them lightly with a mallet or cast-iron skillet.
Lastly, Ludo seasons the salmon with salt and white pepper—“Always use white pepper. It’s good for fish”—before laying it gently in a skillet of melted butter.
Ludo plates the salmon with a few of the remaining segments of fruit, the whole plate swimming with golden citrus sauce. For a garnish, he sautés a few amaranth leaves (similar to sorrel or spinach) and drapes them over the fish. In the end, says Ludo, “the salmon is like butter.”
Get Ludo's pan-seared salmon with citrus curry sauce recipe here.
And, he says, this beautiful dish pairs best with the same Muscadet used for the sauce. Santé!