This is a dish that I threw together while we were staying in Bonnieux during our long vacation in Provence and the Côte d’Azur in France. I bought the salmon and most of the other ingredients at the weekly market in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. The rosemary was growing in a pot on the terrace of our apartment in Bonnieux.
Like many cooks, I suspect, I have unintentionally overcooked fish and ended up with a dried-out and unappetizing mess. Somewhere along the line I learned (I certainly didn’t invent it) a relatively foolproof method that works for thick filets of fish, whether cooked in a pan or on the grill. First, use butter or a mixture of half butter and half oil: the fish will stick less, brown quickly, and taste better. Second, cook the fish on one side (if the skin is on, not the skin side) on high heat just long enough for it to brown and get a little crispy. This shouldn’t take more than 3 – 5 minutes, depending on the heat and type of fish. Then, reduce the heat, turn the fish, and continue cooking until the fish has reached the desired level of doneness. If you are cooking in a pan, it’s OK to put a cover on after the fish is turned, especially if you have added vegetables to the pan and are going for a sort-of braise. I have had good results using this method, even when making relatively well-done fish for friends who prefer it that way. Enjoy.