Seared Salmon with Onions and Rhubarb


Take advantage of rhubarb and salmon when they are both in season for this elegant fish dinner.

DiSpirito's Seared Salmon with Onions and Rhubarb
Photo: © Maura McEvoy
Total Time:
45 mins

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 flavorful main course. 


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

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

  3. Bring a medium saucepan filled with salted water to a boil. Add fava beans and cook until beans are bright green, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fava beans to a bowl and rinse under cool running water until chilled. Peel off tough bean skins and add fava beans to onions.

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

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


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.

Related Articles