Here’s a deceptively delicious summer meal with a wow factor that’s inversely proportional to the simplicity of the prep. Here’s what makes it work:
Make the aioli in advance and keep it well-chilled in the fridge.
Get the asparagus spears ready by peeling or snapping off the woody ends.
Have some appies and drinks ready, and as your guests schmooze, heat up your frying pan. The main course will be ready to serve in 15 minutes.
For the aioli:
2 egg yolks
1 large garlic clove, crushed to a pulp with a good pinch of coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard (I’ve used yellow and dijon; they both work)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, garlic pulp, and mustard. Drizzle in a tiny bit of olive oil and whisk until the mixture emulsifies. Add the rest of the olive oil a drizzle at a time, whisking constantly, until thick. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Scrape the aioli into a pretty serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and stow in the fridge until ready to use.
For the salmon and asparagus:
You will need a large frying pan with a lid. Place the olive oil in the pan over over medium-high heat. Season the salmon steaks with salt and pepper and sear them on both sides, about a minute or two on each side. Remove them to a plate. Put the butter into the pan to melt and mix with the oil. Place the asparagus spears into the pan with a good sprinkling of salt and shake everything around so the spears get coated with the butter and oil. Place the salmon steaks on top of the asparagus. Cover the pan tightly with the lid. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and turn the steaks over. You might also want to roll over the asparagus spears so that they cook evenly. Don’t worry if they start turning brown in spots. Put the lid back on for 3 more minutes or until the asparagus is tender but not mushy and the steaks are cooked through.
Serve immediately with the garlic aioli.