Atlanta’s Aria is a beautiful restaurant particularly perfect for celebrating special occasions, and this dish they shared with us is itself a beautiful celebration, of perfect seasonal ingredients. Sweet Vidalia spring onions, applewood smoked bacon, and tender, fresh green peas—both whole and puréed with butter and chicken stock—harmonize with Copper River king salmon for an elegant taste of spring. A little heavy cream adds a bit of richness while a lemony pea shoot salad brings extra lightness, and both tie it all together. If you find fresh chanterelles or trumpet mushrooms alongside late spring peas and onions at the farmers market, buy some and sauté them to add to the dish.
And see our guide to types of salmon for more about different varieties of the fish.
- Yields: 4 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 40 min
- Active: 40 min
For the salmon:
- 2 strips applewood smoked bacon, julienned
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 Vidalia spring onions, white part only, sliced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 5- to 6-ounce skin on Copper River king salmon fillets
- 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup spring peas, blanched
- 1 cup snow pea shoots
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 batch pea purée
For the pea purée:
- 1/4 cup spring peas, blanched
- 3 tablespoons chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- kosher salt
To make the pea puree:
- Combine peas, stock, and butter. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Place pea mixture in a blender and blend on high. Season to taste with salt. Keep warm.
To make the salmon:
- Heat a heavy-bottom sauté pan over medium heat, add bacon and cook over medium heat just until it is starting to brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Reserve pan for cooking fish.
- Heat a heavy-bottom 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon butter and swirl pan to melt. Add onions and slowly cook for 4 to 6 minutes; if onions begin to brown, reduce the heat. Add cream, increase the heat to medium-high and continue to heat, stirring occasionally when mixture begins to boil up, until cream has thickened to a sauce consistency, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed. Cover to keep warm until ready to serve.
- Season salmon fillets on both sides with salt. Heat the heavy-bottom sauté pan you used to cook the bacon over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil and remaining 1 teaspoon butter. When butter begins to brown, add salmon fillets, flesh side down. Cook fillets until they have a golden brown crust, about 4 minutes. Turn fillets over and cook another 2 minutes. If the fillets are over 1-inch thick, cook on the sides as well, turning when the sides are nicely crusted.
- To serve, bring the cream sauce to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add peas and bacon. Season to taste with salt. In a small bowl, toss pea shoots with remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.
- Spoon 2 tablespoons of the warm pea purée onto the center of a warm plate, top with a ladle of creamed peas and then with a salmon filet. Garnish with the pea shoot salad and serve immediately. Photo by Jeff Moore.