My first bite of salmon occurred at my mother in-law’s dinner table. As a meat and potatoes’ girl, fish was a novelty. It was unfamiliar, smelled the same dead or alive, and one wrong bite could leave fish bones stuck down my throat. Attempting to be polite, I ate enough salmon to be “respectable”. To do this without gagging, I mixed all of my food together so each bite of salmon was hidden underneath vegetables and potatoes (I swear I’m an adult!).
Things were off to a rocky start. Not only was I afraid to taste it, but cooking it was also another ball game. There was no finger test to tell when it was perfectly done and I was all too familiar with starting a fish fire!!
Luckily, salmon is one of the healthiest foods available and eventually I learned to love this fish. Now that I can appreciate salmon, it was onward and upward to actually cooking it properly.
This method from Cook’s Illustrated has been written about before on my blog, but it’s seriously that good! The technique gives a seared texture to each bite and a flaky perfectly done interior. To help sear, rub a brown sugar mixture on the flesh side of the salmon. If you witness a lot of white coming out of the fish, you’ve got a problem. This white substance is not fat, as I used to think, but actually a protein that only comes out when the salmon is cooked too quickly.
To change it up we used a new sauce. This sauce had a more Asian flair and was delicious with the salmon. The sauce itself has a lot of intense flavorful ingredients, but after reducing it everything blends to create a well balanced dish.
Baked (not Broiled) Salmon with an Asian Glaze adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
You will need:
~ 4 salmon filets (skin on)
~ 1 tsp oil (I used canola, recipe called for vegetable)
~ 1 tsp brown sugar
~ ½ tsp kosher salt
~ ¼ tsp corn starch
Soy Mustard Glaze
~ 3 tbsp brown sugar
~ 2 tbsp soy sauce
~ 2 tbsp mirin
~ 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
~ 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
~ 1 tbsp water
~ 1 tsp cornstarch
~ a pinch of red pepper flakes
First, we will make the soy mustard glaze. Whisk all ingredients under the soy mustard glaze together in a small bowl. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce until thickened. (To reduce, gently simmer mixture for a few minutes). Remove from heat and keep warm.
Preheat oven to 300°F and adjust rack to center. Using paper towels, pat dry salmon and season with pepper. Mix ingredients listed under the searing glaze together in a small bowl. Coat flesh side of salmon with searing mixture.
In an oven proof skillet (big enough to hold all 4 filets), heat oil over medium high heat until just smoking. The type of oil you use will determine the smoke point. Refined canola oil’s smoke point is around 400°F while vegetable oil is 360°F. Add salmon flesh side down in skillet and sear about 1 minute.* Flip with tongs and sear skin side down for another minute. Both sides should be browned.
Remove skillet from heat and add soy mustard glaze, spooning on top of the filets. Place skillet in the oven on the center rack. Cook for about 7 to 10 minutes. When salmon reaches an internal temperature of 125°F, it is perfect!
To serve, spoon remaining sauce over salmon. It pairs perfectly with sweet potatoes and asparagus!
*The key to searing is to NOT move it (even though it is tempting) and when flipping, place it on a clean part of the pan (sometimes this isn’t possible given the pan size).