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Poached Salmon with Tarragon-Chive Aioli and Lemon Asparagus

This super easy salmon recipe is easily doubled, just use a larger pot or covered skillet. You’ll have extra aioli unless you halve that recipe, but it’s good in the fridge for a couple of days and perfect for a sandwich spread, a veggie dip, to spoon onto oven roasted or grilled potatoes or vegetables, or as a shrimp sauce. You could serve the dish cold on a hot summer day, but it’s delicious hot or warm.
Serves 2


  • 2 large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard powder
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh chives plus 2 tablespoons minced chives for garnish
  • ¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves plus two sprigs for cooking the salmon
  • ¾ cup oil: half canola or other neutral vegetable oil and half extra virgin olive oil – plus 2 tablespoons for cooking asparagus
  • 1 garlic clove mashed
  • 2 teaspoons peppercorns
  • 2 4-6 – ounce skin-on salmon fillets
  • 1- pound trimmed asparagus
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Flaky sea salt-I like Le Saunier De Camargue Fleur De Sel


  • MAKE THE TARRAGON-CHIVE AIOLI: Using a whisk and a large bowl, or a blender, or a food processor, blend the yolks, lemon juice, a pinch of kosher salt, and mustard powder. Add the ¼ cup each chives and tarragon. (If making by hand, mince the fresh herbs before adding to the egg mixture.) Drizzle in the oil very slowly at first whisking or pulsing continually until emulsified, smooth, and flecked with the finely minced herbs. Don’t overmix. Taste and adjust seasonings. If too bitter, whisk in a ½ teaspoon honey. Set aside or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days ahead.
  • POACH THE SALMON: In a 4-quart dutch oven or medium lidded skillet, bring 4 cups water to boil with the reserved tarragon sprigs, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, smashed garlic, and 2 teaspoons peppercorns. Add salmon, cover; remove from heat. Let stand until salmon is cooked (opaque, but still juicy) about 6 minutes. Begin checking for doneness at 5 minutes.
  • SAUTÉ THE ASPARAGUS: While the water for the salmon heats and the salmon poaches, heat a small skillet over medium-high flame. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat for another minute until shimmering. Add the asparagus -- it’ll seem all piled up – and season with 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, a few grinds of fresh black pepper, the pinch of crushed red pepper, and the lemon zest; toss well. Sauté, tossing every minute or so with tongs, until just crispy tender. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove from heat and set aside loosely covered if the salmon is not yet done.
  • SERVE HOT OR WARM OR AT ROOM TEMPERATURE OR COLD: Add a salmon fillet to each of 2 warm plates or shallow bowls (if serving hot or warm) with some asparagus to the side. Ladle the aioli over the salmon. Garnish with reserved minced chives, a sprinkle of flaky salt, and a grind or two of fresh pepper.


If you don’t want to make aioli (but I wish you would), don’t use a jarred mayonnaise. Instead, melt butter with the chopped fresh tarragon and chives and use that as a sauce along with a drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
* Based on a recipe published in BON APPETIT, May 2013.
Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2021. All rights reserved.