Perfectly Cooked Salmon
This post has been sitting around as a draft for literally a month – and the pictures longer than that – because I’ve apparently been having a bit of writer’s block about it. I just can’t think of anything to say, other than that since I discovered this method of cooking salmon, I use it all the time. Fish is so tricky to get just right, but this method seriously yields the most perfectly crispy-on-the-outside, done-but-not-dry-on-the-inside salmon. Every time!
I was mostly vegetarian through the latter half of high school and into college, and while that was partly because of ethical reasons, it was also because I did not want to deal with raw meat.
Well, fast forward to discovering the low FODMAP diet and realizing that (for me, at least) my body did could not deal with animal protein, I found myself having to to deal with my raw meat thing. We took it slowly, though (by “we,” I mean I made Marc cook all the meat, and I watched and interrogated him. “How do you know it’s done? What are you doing to it now? How hot is the pan?” etc.) and fish was my first step. Raw fish, for whatever reason, just seemed less gross than chicken.
Cooking fish is tricky, though, and I still struggle to know when it’s “flaky done” and not “flaky you cooked it waaaaaay too much.” Well, until I stumbled upon this recipe, that is.
The salmon at Second Bar + Kitchen
One of our favorite restaurants in Austin, Second Bar + Kitchen, has this awesome salmon. Awesome because they somehow get it super crispy on the outside and just done on the inside – like almost not done but it’s still flaky. For years I’ve been just boggled by how on earth they achieve this.
I’m not telling you this recipe is 100% a match for Second’s salmon, because I’m pretty sure you would need to be a professional chef and have professional equipment to do that, but it gets pretty darn close.
Update: if you want to see all my favorite restaurants in downtown Austin (including Second), read my Downtown Austin guide!
The method combines a quick sear on the stove with a slightly longer (but still quick!) stint in the oven. Which is brilliant, because oven-baked fish tends to get too soft for my liking, but cooking fish in a skillet often yields something that’s burnt on the outside and STILL not done on the inside!
I put it on a simple salad and topped it with some homemade croutons and goat cheese, but the possibilities are endless! You could serve it as a “fish and vegetables” situation with zucchni or green beans on the side, or go all out and serve it with fried rice, zucchini, cilantro, & mint like Second’s salmon.
Perfectly Cooked Salmon
- ¾ lb salmon (either one filet or two 4-6 oz filets)
- Salt & pepper
- Neutral high heat oil (such as avocado, grapeseed, or sunflower)
- 2 cups lettuce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or half vinegar / half lemon juice)
- Salt & pepper
- Crumbled goat cheese (optional)
- 1 slice bread (sourdough or gluten free if you’re low FODMAP)
- 1 clove of garlic
- Lots of high heat oil
- Preheat the oven to 350F and heat an oven proof skillet over medium to medium-high heat. (We’re partial to cast iron over here; if using cast iron tend towards the medium side for heat.) If you’re making croutons and would like garlic-infused olive oil, smash the clove with the flat side of the knife. Remove the husk and place it in a small jar or container with a few tablespoons of oil.
- Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel (this is the secret to getting it perfectly seared!) and season with salt & pepper. When pan is hot, add enough oil to generously coat the bottom and let it heat up just a bit. Cook the salmon with the skin side up – undisturbed – for 2 minutes, or until nice and crisp.
- Flip the salmon over so the skin side is down and put it in your preheated oven. Bake for 4 minutes. You know it’s done when you can poke a fork gently in the thickest part and when you twist it, it flakes and doesn’t feel rubbery.
- Divide the lettuce into two bowls. In a small jar with a lid, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt; shake to mix. Pour the dressing over the lettuce and toss to combine.
- For the croutons: cut your bread into crouton-sized cubes. In the same skillet or a new one, heat a generous portion of oil over medium heat. Add bread and toss to combine. Sprinkle with salt. Cook croutons until crisped on all sides. You may have to add more oil – you want to make sure they’re evenly coated.
- Divide the salmon over the salads. Top with croutons and crumbled goat cheese. Enjoy!
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