The Accidental Scientist: Science of Cooking Exploratorium
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recipe: Braised Wasabi Salmon
To braise (originally braiser in French) means to cook in a tightly covered container with just enough liquid to barely cover the meat (if a stew), or halfway up the piece of meat if preparing red meat, poultry, or fish. The word braiser originated from the fact that, when one cooked on the hearth, the pot was buried in hot embers (braise in French means "smoldering coals"). This salmon recipe uses your stovetop, some white wine, and a tight-fitting pan to do the job.

Woodcut of a traditional French braiser

Recipe Conversions

When handling raw meat, make sure you wash your hands, and any surfaces and utensils the meat has touched, thoroughly! Raw meat contains lots of infectious bacteria that can make you very ill!

What Do I Need? .
• 1 fillet of salmon, 3/4 pound to 1 pound

Braising, a moist-heat method, is a good way to cook fish. Since fish's muscle structure is less dense than that of other animals, it can dry out more easily.

The citric acid in lemon juice combines with the flavor compounds, or amines, in fish to help diminish the fishy odor.

• a pinch of cracked black pepper
• a pinch of coarse sea salt
• 2 tablespoons wasabi, either wet or dry
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 1 cup dry white wine
• 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
• 3 tablespoons diced scallions (for garnish)
• yellow and black sesame seeds (for garnish)
• lemon wedges (for garnish)
• paper towels
• large plate  
• skillet with secure-fitting top  
• whisk  
• spatula  
• serving plate  
What Do I Do?


1. Gently wash the salmon, and pat it dry with a paper towel. Rub with sea salt, cracked pepper, and wasabi. Set aside on a plate.



2. Heat sesame oil in the skillet, careful not to let it burn. When a single sesame seed dropped in the oil pops, place the fish in skin side down. Move pan quickly back and forth a few times to keep the fish from sticking to the pan.


3. Whisk together white wine and vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside.

4. When both sides of the fish flesh become slightly opaque (approximately 5 minutes) pour the wine/vinegar mixture into the pan. Immediately cover the pan with the lid, and create a tight seal. You want to create a little sauna for your fish in the pan.  
5. Lower heat and cook for 15 to 20 more minutes, or until the center of the thickest part of the fish is still very pink, and has a custardlike consistency. Remove from heat and let sit in the pan while you dice the scallions. Explore
Try grilling some virtual catfish in our on-line laboratory.
6. Remove the fish from the pan with the spatula, place on a serving plate, and sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve with lemon wedges.
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