This recipe has been with me for the longest time - I think I came across it in a magazine in my dentist's waiting room, but over the years it has evolved so much that I can certainly claim it to be my own. Since I have passed it on to so many friends and relatives, it's become a bit of a signature dish.
We don't eat enough fish, that's for sure, even more true for Austria, where even locally caught fish is very expensive compared to your regular cuts of pork, so it does not feature on your average menu regularly. It was tradition where I come from (originating in the catholic church) that Fridays should be days of fasting. Well, it was re-interpreted quite a bit to suit the healthy Austrian appetite, resulting in people eating no meat, but everything else being allowed. So in any canteen, even as a special in most restaurants, or for your school lunch, there would be fish. In my family, we had sweets. I am not joking, we always had various strudels, fruit-filled dumplings, Kaiserschmarr'n (a pan-cake like dough with raisins baked in a pan, then torn up into bite-size pieces)... there are too many to name them all. That was fasting for us. Strange concept.
Back to the fish now (I've always preferred savoury to sweet) salmon is considered a luxury item back "home", very different from here where it is one of the most common fish. It's also one of my favourite, as it is easy to prepare, tasty and virtually boneless - always a bonus! As for the fennel-leek sauce, I love it so much I could eat it with a spoon... unfortunately, its richness probably undoes all the health benefits you get from the fish (omega3 blahdiblahdiblah) but there you go - I guess I can always fast when I'm dead!
Salmon fillet on leek & fennel sauce
3 thick-cut salmon fillets (200 - 250 g each)
5 tbsp olive oil
100 g fennel (finely chopped)
150 g leeks (cut lengthways, then sliced)
200 ml dry white wine
284 ml double cream
200 ml concentrated vegetable or fish stock
10 sage leaves (finely sliced)
1 shot worcestershire sauce
500 - 750 g small new potatoes
3 large sprigs rosemary
sea salt (fleur de sel)
Wash the potatoes thoroughly. Arrange in an oiled oven-proof pan, sprinkle with sea salt and the rosemary and place in the oven, at 220 C. Allow about 30 minutes for them to cook through, more or less depending on the size of your potatoes.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a non-stick pan, then fry the fennel and leeks until very soft, taking care not to brown them. Deglaze with the white wine and cook until almost evaporated. Add the double cream and stock and reduce to achieve a thick consistency. Season with salt, pepper and the worcestershire sauce, then stir in the sage leaves. Keep warm.
Fry the salmon in a pan, skin-side down, for about 5 - 7 minutes. It should be only cooked to medium. Turn over and turn off the heat, leaving the fish to rest for another 2 or 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the fillets on a bed of sauce, with the potatoes to the side. Serve immediately.