Dinner doesn’t get any easier than this. Fancy enough for a dinner party. But just 5 ingredients and 15 minutes. Plus, my tips for how to cook salmon perfectly, every time!
I was almost too embarrassed to put this up as a recipe because it’s so simple. But then I realised that this is actually the best example I have of a ridiculously easy and fast dinner that is made in scratch and fancy enough to serve up at a dinner party.
This recipe is all about the sauce. Just four simple pantry essentials in the right proportions – soy sauce, honey, garlic and vinegar. It’s the same sauce I use for my Truly Crispy Oven Baked Wings with Honey Garlic Sauce. I also use it to drizzle over baked sweet potatoes and carrots (OMG, it is soooo good) and even as the base for slow cooked shredded meats.
My idea of a perfectly cooked salmon is shatter-crisp skin with juicy, moist flesh that is barely cooked in the middle so the colour when you cut into it is a beautiful deep, translucent coral colour rather than pale pink all the way through. Here are my tips for cooking salmon:
- Pat the skin dry;
- Heat the oil in a pan over high heat, but as soon as you put the salmon in (skin side down), turn it down to medium. Most of the cook time should be done on the skin side because the flesh is insulated by the skin. Also, you need the cook time to crisp up the skin;
- Turning the heat down renders out the fat under the skin so you are left with a thin skin which is super crispy. It also cooks the flesh without burning the skin;
- Use a spatula to hold the salmon down so the skin is fully pressed down on the pan; and
- When you turn the salmon over, you only cook it for barely a minute. If you cook it for too long, the surface of the flesh overcooks.
If you have a thermometer, you can use it double check that the salmon is perfectly cooked. It should be 120F / 50C for medium rare or 130F / 55C for medium. But you don’t need a thermometer – you can tell when it’s cooked to your liking just by looking at the side of the salmon. As it cooks, you can see the flesh changing from a raw coral colour to pale pink. Flip it before the middle of the flesh turns pink and cook the flesh side just for 1 minute. When you take it off the stove, the fish keeps cooking and by the time it has rested, it is perfectly cooked.
Have you got any short-cut secret recipes up your sleeve? I’d love to hear about them!
- 4 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp white vinegar (or sub with any other vinegar except balsamic)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 salmon or trout fillets (6oz / 200g each)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Sesame seeds
- Finely sliced shallots/scallions
- Whisk together the Sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
- Pat salmon skin dry with a paper towel (skin only, not flesh) and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle oil in a fry pan and heat over high heat. Place salmon in the pan, skin side down, then immediately turn the heat down to medium.
- Press down gently with a spatula so the skin cooks evenly. Cook for 5 minutes until the middle is still coral ( if you want rare), or until the middle is just starting to change from translucent (if you want medium). Check the side of the salmon to tell how cooked through the middle is. (Note 1)
- Just before flipping, spread 1 tbsp of Sauce on the flesh of each fillet.
- Flip and cook the other side just for 1 minute. Remove immediately from the fry pan and allow to rest (skin side up) for 3 minutes. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds and shallots, if using, with the remaining Sauce on the side.
2. I served it, skin side down, on steamed asparagus. Because the skin is elevated, it stays crispy. When I serve it directly on a plate, then I serve it skin side up so the skin stays crispy (that applies to serving it on "wet" things like mashed potato. :)
3. This is how I make steamed asparagus: rinse a bunch under tap water then shake off excess water. Wrap in cling wrap and microwave for 40 seconds. Remove and immediately unwrap (be careful, steam will escape) so it does not continue cooking.
The nutrition assumes you use all the Sauce, but you probably won’t. Even I don’t use all the Sauce, and I love lots of Sauce! The Sauce accounts for 140 calories of the total 466 calories per serving.
This is also the nutrition for skin-on salmon. I love the crispy skin, but you can reduce the calories by using skinless salmon. The salmon skin accounts for 87 calories of the 466 calories.