Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bacon Salmon Sandwiches

In my opinion, there are few things that fail to pair brilliantly with bacon.  Bacon even goes well with sweets!  Bacon and chocolate might not be for everyone, but don't tell my you haven't dipped a nice greasy stick of bacon into your pancake syrup... But I musn't stray into sweets (as I am inclined to do)!  Maybe I will post a bacon-chocolate recipe on my sister-blog, dedicated to sweets (Evil Batch), but for now back to our luscious bacon salmon sandwich.  The smoky richness of bacon harmonizes beautifully with the sweet meatiness of salmon, and since salmon is healthy (albeit tasty), you don't have to feel too guilty about adding a few indulgent strips of fatty pork.  I shouldn't let the bacon steal the show though, because this sandwich really showcases the flaky fresh filet, pan fried to perfection.  The peppery arugula and citrusy dressing add bright notes to contrast against the smoky-richness of the bacon-salmon combo, while caramelized onions chime into the sandwich symphony with pungent sweetness.  Creamy avocado softens and rounds-out the flavors.  Perfect eats for a warm evening.

*Note, cooking involves a lot of creative license, and often benefits from substitutions and variations to suit your personal preferences (unlike baking, which usually requires precise measurements for best results).  Thus, specified quantities are guidelines unless otherwise indicated.  This particular recipe offers approximate quantities to make four bacon-salmon sandwiches.

A little under 1lb of fresh salmon
Two handfuls of arugula
1 lemon
2 pinches of sugar
High-quality extra virgin olive oil (tasting oil usually has a stronger, fruitier flavor than generic olive oil - you pay for the flavor, but it's worth it)
Splash of white balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper for use throughout the cooking process
half an onion
8 slices of bacon
1 avocado
8 slices of sourdough bread (or if you have big long slices, use 4 slices, each cut in half to produce 8 pieces)
Olive oil for cooking (as distinguished from olive oil for tasting, used above)
Butter for buttering

Prepare the bread: preheat the oven to 300, and slather butter onto the sliced sourdough.  Lay the slices on a large baking sheet.

 Cook the bacon in a hot skillet until crispy.  Lay on paper towels to drain.

Prepare the caramelized onion: thinly slice the onion, add a heavy drizzle of olive oil to a saucepan, and place over medium-low heat.  Allow the oil to get hot, and then add the onion and stir to coat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes and then add a pinch of sugar and turn the heat to low.  Continue cooking until caramelized, ~25 min.  Keep an eye on the onions.  Stir occasionally and add a drizzle of oil whenever the onions look dry or begin to scorch.  You can continue with the following steps as the onions cook...

Prepare the dressing: in a small bowl, combine about 1/3c. of the extra virgin olive oil with the juice of one lemon, a pinch of sugar, and a splash of white balsamic vinegar.  Whisk in salt and pepper to taste.  Sample the dressing and vary the ingredient quantities to suit your preference.

Prepare the fish: generously douse a large frying pan with olive oil (cooking quality), and turn the heat to medium.  When the oil is hot and shimmering (but before it smokes!), add the salmon skin-side down, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook the salmon ~5 minutes per side, or until it flakes easily when tested with a fork.  The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your filet - skinny fish will cook faster than chubby fish.

Halfway through the fish-cooking process, pop the bread in the oven to toast lightly, and toss the dressing with the arugula.

When the fish is done, remove the skin by sliding a butter knife under the edge and peeling it away.  It should come off easily.  Remove the bread from the oven, and top each slice with a quarter each of the caramelized onions, salmon, arugula mixture, and avocado.  Add two slices of bacon to each sandwich and top with a slice of toasty bread.  Serve with tomato soup, and any extra arugula salad.

Deconstructed Sandwich
If you don't like the idea of eating a sandwich for dinner, you can follow this recipe, but instead of combining everything into a hand-held meal, do the following:

Break the bacon into bits.  Toss the arugula mixture with the bacon bits, avocado, and caramelized onions for a savory side-salad.  Serve the filets with the salad and slices of buttered sourdough.

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