Wrapping fresh wild salmon fillets in sturdy collard greens and then steaming them gently locks in moisture—a technique based on cooking en papillote, or steaming in parchment paper. Collard greens are a soul food staple, but I prefer my greens not cooked overly long so they retain some texture. This combination of salmon, greens, and fresh herbs, amped up with a tangy Creole mustard vinaigrette, is a great example of bringing together California character and soulful Southern flavors.
Yield: 4 servings
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Ease of Preparation: Easy


Creole Mustard Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground back pepper
  • 1⁄4 cup creole mustard or whole-grain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

Collard-Wrapped Salmon:
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large collard leaves, center stem trimmed
  • 4 salmon fillets (each about 6 ounces), skin removed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 sprigs thyme


For the Creole mustard sauce: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Drizzle a small baking sheet with some olive oil. Sprinkle the garlic with salt and black pepper and place cut-side down on the baking sheet. Roast until the garlic is golden brown and tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool.

In a blender, combine the mustard, lemon juice, roasted garlic and cayenne. Blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil, blending until the mixture is emulsified, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and stir in half of the chives. Set aside.

For the collard-wrapped salmon: Fill a medium bowl with ice water. Bring a pot half full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the collard leaves and blanch just until softened and bright green, about 30 seconds. Transfer the leaves to the ice water using tongs. Once cool, lay the leaves on paper towels to dry.

Rub both sides of the salmon with olive oil, then season all over with salt and black pepper. For each fillet, lay 2 collard leaves side by side, so they are just overlapping. Place the fillet in the center and top with a sprig of thyme. Carefully fold the leaves around the fish to create a package. Place on a plate, folded-side down. Repeat with the remaining salmon fillets and collard leaves.

Fill a large, high-sided pan or a wok with enough water to come about 1 inch up the sides. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Fit a steamer basket or insert into the pan. Place the fish packets in the steamer, then cover the pan. Steam just until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes; you can carefully cut into a packet to check the fish for doneness (it should be mostly opaque but still pink in the center).

Gently transfer the fish to a serving platter or individual plates. Cut open each package and drizzle some of the mustard sauce over the top. Garnish with the remaining chives and serve at once, with any remaining sauce passed alongside.

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