Here, I am taking liberties with a classic Shanghai-style braised whole fish by using salmon fillet cut into individual portions. The salmon is first cooked in water that has been simmered with ginger and green onions. Before it is fully cooked, almost all the liquid is drained off and the fish is basted in a sweet vinegar sauce and cooked through. I like to serve this dish with steamed jasmine rice, spooning some of the sauce over the rice.
Sweet Vinegar Sauce
1. Remove the salmon from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking to bring it to room temperature.
2. To Make the Sauce: In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the 4 green onions and julienned ginger. Set aside.
3. In a sauté pan just large enough to hold the salmon fillets in a single layer, combine the water, 3 green onions, and sliced ginger. Bring to a boil over medium heat, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully slip the salmon into the pan. (The salmon should be completely submerged in the poaching liquid. If it isn’t, add a bit more water.) Cover the pan and poach the salmon for 5 minutes.
4. Again using the spatula, lift the salmon to a plate. Carefully drain off almost all the poaching liquid from the pan, leaving only 1/4 cup [60 ml] in the pan. Remove and discard the green onions and ginger from the pan. Return the pan to medium-low heat and add the vinegar sauce. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Slip the salmon back into the pan and baste with the sauce. Continue to braise the salmon, basting frequently, until almost opaque throughout, or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 125°F [52°C] or a little above, about 8 minutes. The sauce will have reduced and thickened a little.
5. Transfer the salmon to warmed dinner plates or shallow pasta bowls. Spoon the sauce around the fillets, dividing it evenly. Serve immediately.
From Salmon by Diane Morgan, Chronicle Books 2016.
"Vegetables are perishable, so we don't have any indication of what they looked like 500 years ago," says James Nienhuis, a professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin.