This Roasted Salmon Recipe Is Ready in No Time
It’s easy to forget that rhubarb is a vegetable. Much of the time, you’ll find it buried, like a fruit, under an avalanche of sugar baked into a pie, crumble or cake, or maybe simmered into a compote.
But rhubarb isn’t just for dessert. With a bracing acidity reminiscent of citrus or pomegranate and no pesky seeds, it lends brightness and tang to all sorts of savory dishes. It also adds body, cooking down into a thick sauce with a soft, pulpy texture much like tomato (an actual fruit), though sharper and pinker.
My favorite way to show off rhubarb’s savory side is to use it as a foil for rich ingredients like fatty meats, buttery sauces and oily fish, which the stalks’ tartness cuts like a light saber. Think vinegar, but with precision and finesse.
In this recipe, I match rosy rhubarb with even pinker salmon fillets for a simple, sunset-colored weeknight meal.
First, simmer the rhubarb until it dissolves into a sauce, spiked with piquant fresh ginger, rice vinegar and scallions. Adding just enough sugar tames the acidity, but feel free to stir in a little more if you like, as long as the sauce doesn’t slide into compote territory (in which case, save it for your morning yogurt).
When the sauce reaches a perfect balance of tart and sweet, spoon some over the fish fillets before roasting. This allows the rhubarb filaments to singe and caramelize in the oven’s high heat. Then serve the rest of the rhubarb mix on the side for a fresher, zippier bite.
If you can find deeply red rhubarb stalks, they’ll give you the most vivid presentation. Green stalks, though just as flavorful, cook down to a listless beige and aren’t nearly as pretty. Still, that’s nothing a flamboyant garnish of scallion greens couldn’t fix.
You can substitute other fillets for the salmon, but proceed carefully. You need a strongly flavored fish to stand up to this strident sauce. Assertive mackerel, swordfish, bluefish and tuna all stand their ground nicely. But mild fillets like cod, flounder and halibut will be quickly overwhelmed. Rhubarb is not for delicate proteins.
I love this dish on a bed of buttery rice, which absorbs the flavors of the salmon and the sauce and mellows them perfectly.
Rhubarb’s always a joyful dessert, but, to really get to know it, bring it to dinner.