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Wild Salmon Tournedos With Caramelized Turnips & Pinot Noir Sauce


First Choices: Soter Yamhill-Carlton District Mineral Springs Ranch 2007 (91, $48)

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  • 1-pound wild king salmon fillet, skin, pin bones and dark flesh removed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 12 ounces small turnips, peeled
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, half cut into pieces and chilled
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 bottle of Pinot Noir
  • 1/2 cup fish stock, vegetable stock or bottled clam juice
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 fresh bay leaf, partly torn


Adapted from


Step 1

Place the salmon on a board, with the thinner belly side of the fillet on the right. Butterfly the salmon with a slender, sharp knife, by cutting into the fillet about halfway between the highest point and the bottom on the belly side. Cut horizontally toward the opposite, thicker, side of the fillet. Stop about half an inch from the end, and unfold, making one long piece of roughly even thickness.

Turn the fillet piece over so that the cut surface now faces down, and so that the fillet points away from you lengthwise. Starting at the bottom, roll the fillet up to the midpoint where there is a natural break that, with minimal effort, separates the fillet into two pieces.

Set aside the first piece and repeat with the remaining piece. Set the two cylinders on the work surface, seam-side down. Using kitchen string, securely tie each cylinder twice so that when each cylinder is cut in half, string will be in the middle of each of 4 tournedos. Trim the ends of the cylinder, if necessary, to make them even, then cut each cylinder in half. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until the sauce is boiling.

Halve or quarter larger turnips if needed to create relatively even sizes. Put 2 tablespoons of the unchilled butter in a medium skillet and cook over medium heat until foamy. Add the turnips, with a good pinch each of salt and pepper, and toss well. Cook for about 2 minutes, then sprinkle the sugar over and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the turnips are tender and nicely caramelized, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Set aside in the skillet to reheat before serving.

For the sauce, combine the wine, stock, shallots, thyme and bay leaf in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce by three-quarters, about 30 minutes. Strain the sauce into a small saucepan. Just before serving, gently whisk in the chilled butter, one piece at a time, so that it melts into a creamy sauce. Keep warm in a water bath over very low heat.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Put the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a 9-inch, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until the butter turns medium-brown, with a slightly nutty aroma. Add the salmon and cook until nicely browned, but no more than 2 minutes total. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the salmon is medium-rare, 2 to 3 minutes.

Put the salmon on a warm plate and remove the strings with a sharp knife or scissors. Warm the caramelized turnips over medium heat. Place the turnips just off-center in each of 4 plates. Lean the salmon against the turnips, and spoon the sauce around the salmon. Serve warm.

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