Wild salmon (i.e., not farm-raised) from the Pacific Northwest is sometimes available at premium fish markets. It's well worth looking for.
- 1 tomato, peeled, halved, and seeded
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Provençal
- 6 loosely packed cups fennel fronds (feathery green parts)
- 1 1⁄4 cups fish fumet (concentrated fish stock)
- 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
- 1 tsp. pastis (optional)
- 4 6-oz. skinless center-cut salmon filets
- 8 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. Asian chili oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. peeled, minced red bell pepper
- 3 Tbsp. minced dill
- Coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 275°. Place tomato halves on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil, and bake for 3 1⁄2-4 hours. Finely dice and set aside.
Reduce oven heat to 225°. Place fennel in a pot with salted water to cover, and boil over high heat for about 10 minutes. Drain well, transfer to a blender, add 1⁄4 cup fish fumet, and blend until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve set over a bowl. Whisk in heavy cream and pastis (if using) and set aside.
Spread 1 tbsp. butter over each salmon filet, and place, flat side down, in an ovenproof dish. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 minutes. (Salmon should be warm but translucent.)
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, reduce remaining fish fumet by half over medium heat. Whisk in lemon juice, remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil, and chili oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk in remaining butter, 1 tbsp. at a time, until sauce thickens a bit. Stir in tomato, bell pepper, and dill.
Divide fennel emulsion between 4 plates, leaving a 1 1⁄2'' border all around. Place a salmon filet, flat side down, in the middle of each plate, atop emulsion, and spoon fumet sauce around the edges. Sprinkle coarse sea salt and pepper over salmon.