I have had several friends ask me how I get the top of salmon, golden brown and crispy so, I thought I would share! Saute is a cooking method where you quickly cook food using a small amount of fat over high heat. Seared and caramelized on stove top but can also be finished in oven. In this article I will also be making a spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette. I have taken this dressing and adjusted it to perfection. It is fool proof not to mention quick and easy to prepare!
First, let’s discuss kitchen supplies. You will need a stainless steel saute / frying pan. Sorry folks, non stick won’t cut it. The second item is very minor but has proven to be quite the life saver in my kitchen. I keep a squeezee bottle filled with canola oil next to the stove while sauteing. Envision running to the pantry for your big jug of canola oil if your pan becomes too dry.
Let’s chat about why I recommend using canola oil when sauteing. Canola has one of the highest smoking points, meaning you can get your oil screaming hot before it will begin to smoke. It is important that you do not allow your oil to get this hot, when your oil starts smoking this is nature’s way of you telling you that your oil is toxic. You should throw your oil out and begin again.
Now you have your stainless steel saute pan, canola oil and of course your salmon ready to go. Let’s get started. Place pan on burner and turn heat to medium to medium high. Using canola oil, coat the bottom of the pan however be careful not to overfill the pan. If it looks like your fish is going to be swimming again, dump a little out. While your oil is heating, let’s season our fillet with salt and pepper. If I was back in culinary school there would be great debate about black vs. white pepper. I personally prefer black pepper however you will see from my pictures the other side of the coin. The black pepper can be mistaken for burnt pieces. You decide.
We want our oil to get flaming hot. It is important when sauteing to use all of your senses. When you begin to see ripples in the oil, this is one indication your oil is ready. Another easy test to perform to ensure your oil is ready is the “bread test”. Take a small piece of bread and place in your pan of hot oil, if you hear and see the bread sizzling it is now time to add your fillet.
Place the fillet presentation side down, simply the side without skin. If your fillet does not have skin, choose the side you think looks best and that is your presentation side. The next step is a safety tip and important. Now that our oil is hot the last thing we need is to burn ourselves. When adding your fillet start with the end closest to your body. This will ensure any possible oil spatter fires off the other end and not toward you!
We are now sauteing! Another important rule is to not mess around with your fillet. The minute you start sneaking a peek is the minute your fillet will stick and crumble. While keeping the pan on the burner give it a couple shakes. If you notice the pan is beginning to smoke, turn down the temperature. You want to continue to give your pan a couple shakes every minute or so. Also, check out the sides of the fillet, you will start to see the sides turning golden brown. Continue to shake pan until your fillet no longer sticks and is sliding around pan.
Using a spatula, carefully flip your salmon fillet. Turn heat down when cooking on the skin side. Since I do not eat the skin I do not worry about this side becoming a bit more than golden brown. I keep it on this side until cooked. If you enjoy eating the skin you may consider finishing your fillet in the oven. Throw your saute pan directly in the oven (another benefit of stainless steel) 5 – 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until cooked the way you enjoy it. Remove cooked fillet and place on rack while making the spinach salad.
If it at first you do not succeed try and try again. This cooking method takes a little finesse but once you grasp the concept you will nail it every time!
Spinach Salad With Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 small bag of spinach, rinsed and dried off
Handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful of candied pecans
3 – 4 T. goat cheese* crumbles
*If you do not like goat cheese you can substitute with a soft cheese of your liking. Example: feta or blue cheese.
Serving: 3/4 cup (can refrigerate up to 1 – 2 weeks)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fig balsamic vinegar (if you cannot find fig regular balsamic will do the trick)
1 med. garlic clove, quartered
1 T. mayonnaise
1 T. honey
1 T. dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste, I gave it 1 twirl from the salt grinder and 2 twirls from the pepper grinder.
1. Mix your salad ingredients together.
2. Add all of the vinaigrette ingredients into a blender or food processor.
3. Mix on high until your oil and vinegar have become 1.
4. Dress salad and place salmon fillet on top.
Enjoy! From my kitchen to yours.