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MasterChef Australia

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Ep 66 - Salmon and Salad

MasterChef Australia on TV ONE and TVNZ Ondemand

EP 66 MasterClass

Daniel Boulud
Serves 6

One 4-pound (2kg) center-cut, boneless, skinless salmon fillet
3 teaspoons fennel pollen (divided)
1 teaspoon Sumac
1 teaspoon Piment despelette
4 to 6 fresh or frozen fig leaves* (or parchment paper and fresh fennel greens)
5 pounds red, low-fire earthenware clay
3 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into small wedges
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced on a mandolin
1 cup unsalted chicken stock
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ripe figs: 3 figs halved, 3 figs diced
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 shallots, sliced
1 cup red wine
Pinch of sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound arugula, picked
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
Olive oil, as needed

1 Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450F.

2 Trim the fillet to a rectangle with a uniform thickness. Season both sides of the filet with the 2 teaspoons of the fennel pollen, sumac, and piment despelette.

3 Put the fig leaves on a flat work surface interlocking the leaves to form a rectangle just large enough to wrap the fish. Place the salmon horizontally in the center of the fig leaf rectangles. Fold the sides of the leaves over the fish then the top and bottom edge over. If using fresh fig leaves, use kitchen string to secure the leaves in place. (You can also wrap the fillet in parchment paper with fresh fennel greens.)

4 Roll the clay into two 1/3-inch-thick rectangles just a little larger than the wrapped fish and put 1 of the clay rectangles on a sheet pan. Put the wrapped fish on top the clay rectangle. Brush the edges of the clay with water and put the 2nd clay rectangle on top, pressing and sealing the edges. Bake about 15 minutes (how long the fish bakes is determined by the thickness of the fish) until the internal temperature of the fish reaches 132F (55.5C). You can check the temperature by inserting the probe of a thermometer through the clay and into the center of the fish. While the salmon is baking, prepare the Fennel, Figs, and Sauce.

5 For the braised fennel put the fennel wedges, chicken stock, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; season with salt, pepper and remaining fennel pollen. Cover and cook until the fennel is tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

6 For the roasted figs, put the fig halves and balsamic vinegar in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and cook until the figs are lightly glazed. Set aside and keep warm.

7 For the Sauce, put the shallot, 1 diced fig, red wine, and sugar in a small saucepan over high heat. Cook until the liquid is reduced to 4 tablespoons. Stir in the butter, strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve, and mix in the remaining diced figs. Set aside and keep warm.

8 Remove the fish from the oven and rest for 6 to 7 minutes. Gently break the clay open from the side, exposing the wrapped fish. Unfold the fig leaves from the fish.

9 To serve, toss together the arugula and shaved fennel and season with the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Cut the salmon into individual-size portions and put onto warm dinner plates. Top with the braised fennel and a small bouquet of the arugula-fennel salad. Add the glazed fig halves and drizzle the sauce around.
* Fig leaves are not edible.