The last time I tried to cook fish ended with the kitchen in flames and the smell of burnt fish baked into my apartment for weeks.
From that moment on, Chris was in charge of dealing with the fish when it appeared on the menu. However, since I have plans to become a great cook, fish and I would need to meet again. I’d been feeling confident this week after the homemade blue cheese dressing and thought I’d give it a go.
Cooks Illustrated devoted an entire section to salmon in January’s issue. Rather than broiling the salmon and risking an over chewy crust, they suggested searing and then slow cooking the salmon. This allows the salmon to heat evenly but still creates a caramelized outer shell. It also gives you more control over the heat by avoiding the need to frequently open the oven door and baste the salmon with the glaze. Instead, a cornstarch mixture rubbed on the salmon before cooking helps the glaze adhere.
In addition to this new technique, Cooks Illustrated featured many different glazes for the salmon. Feeling a little fruity, we choose the Pomegranate – Balsamic Glaze. Served with mashed sweet potatoes and asparagus, this meal hit the spot!
Salmon Glaze: Pomegranate-Balsamic Adapted from Bryan Roof at Cooks Illustrated
You will need:
~ 4 salmon filets (about 1 ½ to 2 lbs)
~ 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
~ ½ teaspoon kosher salt
~ ¼ teaspoon cornstarch
~ 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
~ black pepper
~ 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
~ 3 tablespoons pomegranate juice
~ 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
~ 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
~ 1 teaspoon cornstarch
~ a pinch of cayenne pepper
Make the glaze prior to cooking the fish. Whisk all ingredients (listed under the pomegranate-balsamic glaze ingredients) in a small bowl and pour into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes (the recipe said 1 minute, but it also says you should have ½ cup of the glaze remaining. I just kept reducing the sauce to get ½ cup which took 5 minutes). Once done, remove from heat and put a lid on the saucepan to keep the glaze warm.
Time to cook the salmon. Now, if you have skin on your fish don’t be worried. I cooked the salmon with the skin on and left the fire extinguisher in its place. First, turn the oven to 300°F and adjust the racks so that the salmon can be in the middle. Next, pat dry the salmon (both sides) with paper towels and season with pepper. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt and rub on salmon’s flesh side.
Heat oil in an oven safe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. You want the oil to be slightly smoking, before putting the salmon on. Another way to tell if the pan is hot enough is to throw a little water on it and see if the water immediately bubbles and steams off. Once the pan is at the right temperature, sear the salmon on each side for one minute (starting with the flesh side down first).
Remove skillet from heat and pour the glaze over the salmon. Put the skillet in the oven and cook for 7 to 10 minutes or once the meatiest part reaches 125°F. FYI – you might not think its done, but its done…. I slightly over cooked ours. Serve and devour!