In 2018, Food & Wine named this recipe one of our 40 best: No one will contest that Union Square Cafe was one of the defining restaurants of the early ’90s. Critics and diners were delighted by Danny Meyer’s devout attention to hospitality and couldn’t get enough of chef Michael Romano’s remarkable greenmarket-centric American-Italian food. Certain dishes defined the restaurant, including Romano’s seared salmon, which was one of the most popular items on the menu and one of the best recipes we ever published. The myriad vegetables in the recipe—corn, spinach, shiitakes, and tomato—sing of late summer. This recipe serves three to four as a main course and can easily be doubled.
3/4 cup unsalted butter (6 ounces), divided
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
3 garlic cloves (2 thinly sliced and 1 whole), divided
1 (1-pound) center-cut salmon fillet, sliced crosswise into 6 strips
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
How to Make It
Cut 6 tablespoons butter into 1/2-inch cubes, and refrigerate until ready to use. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-low. Add onion, sliced garlic, shiitake stems, tomato, black peppercorns, and bay leaf, and cook until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 12 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and 1/3 cup water, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is syrupy, about 4 minutes.
Reduce heat to low, and add cubed butter, 2 to 3 pieces at a time, whisking thoroughly between additions. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Keep sauce warm over a double boiler.
Spear whole garlic clove with a dinner fork. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over high until just beginning to smoke. Add spinach; cook, stirring using fork with garlic clove, until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste; transfer to a colander to drain. Discard garlic clove.
Wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Reduce heat to medium, and add 3 tablespoons butter. Add shiitake caps, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in corn kernels; cook until completely heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl, and keep warm.
Increase heat to high, and add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet. Season salmon strips with salt and pepper to taste. Add fish to skillet, and cook until browned but barely cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
Divide spinach among 6 plates; surround with corn and shiitakes. Place a salmon strip on top of spinach, and spoon vinegar sauce on fish. Garnish with a sprinkling of chives; serve immediately.
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