DiSpirito's Seared Salmon with Onions and Rhubarb


In early summer when it's in season, lean, wild Alaskan Copper River salmon is Rocco DiSpirito's favorite fish. But any wild salmon would be delicious for this complexly flavored main course. Bulb onions — immature onions harvested early in the season — are available in the produce department of some supermarkets and most specialty food stores. 

DiSpirito's Seared Salmon with Onions and Rhubarb
Photo: © Maura McEvoy


  • 1 1/2 cups dry fino sherry

  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar or palm sugar (See Note)

  • 1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed and sliced diagonally 1/3 inch thick

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 pound bulb onions or sweet white onions, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth

  • 1 thyme sprig

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 pound fava beans, shelled

  • Four 6-ounce salmon fillets, skin on

  • Vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sherry with the sugar and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the rhubarb and cook until just tender, about 1 minute. Strain the rhubarb in a colander set over a bowl to catch the cooking liquid. Return the liquid to the saucepan and boil over high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 8 minutes.

  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and thyme sprig and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat until the onions are tender, about 8 minutes.

  3. In a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the fava beans for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a bowl and refresh under cool running water. Peel off the tough bean skins and add the favas to the onions.

  4. Heat a cast-iron skillet. Lightly coat the salmon fillets with some vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook the salmon, skin side down, over moderately high heat until the skin is very crisp, about 4 minutes. Turn the salmon and cook over moderate heat until barely cooked through, about 4 minutes more, depending on the thickness of the fillets.

  5. To serve, discard the thyme sprig and rewarm the onions; add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Bring the sherry-rhubarb liquid to a boil and add the cooked rhubarb. Spoon the rhubarb onto 4 large plates and set the onions alongside. Top with the salmon and serve at once.


Turbinado sugar is available at most supermarkets. Palm sugar is available at Asian markets.

Suggested Pairing

Salmon is meaty enough to match with light reds or big whites, but the tangy rhubarb, sweet spring onions and earthy fava beans make a big, fruity, opulent California Chardonnay the best bet.

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