Saturday, August 8, 2009

More Things You Can Make in a Skillet: Fishy, Fishy, Fish

Now that you've dusted off that oven-proof skillet, here's a main-dish-type thing to make in it. This is my favorite way to cook salmon since it's so speedy (and tasty, of course). You can muck about with side dishes, if you wish, while the skillet is pre-heating; once the fish goes into the oven, dinner is less than 10 minutes away. If you have a cast-iron skillet, all the better because it will retain heat and keep your fish from getting cold whilst you herd your guests to the table.

This cooking method can be used with other types of fish. It works well with skin-on fillets - put them skin side-down in the pan and the fillets will easily slide off the skin when they are cooked. You can cook the fish as is, marinate it, or add a glaze. If I could remember where I first read about this method, I would give credit - the strategy is not original but the tweaks are all mine.

You can also do this on the grill - perfect on a hot summer day when you don't want to heat up the kitchen. I have a gi-normous, 16" cast iron skillet that my in-laws gave me as a gift. My stove can't distribute BTUs evenly over that much surface area, but it's great on the grill. Leave the skillet on a gas grill while you pre-heat (if you're using charcoal, put the skillet on the grill for 10 minutes after the coals are ready).

(A Note: some gas ovens will automatically shut off for a short period of time when the broiler has been on for ~15 minutes. This is normal, and it will turn back on again when the oven temperature cools down a bit).

(A note on my Note: I found out about that gas-oven-shutting-off-automatically thing when I called the oven repairman because I thought that my new oven was broken. What did I know about fancy new thermostats and new-fangled ovens? The last time I lived in a house that had a new oven, I was 3 years old and they didn't let me cook).

With salmon, I like to use a Korean-style marinade (see below) and serve with rice and a mushroom/cabbage saute. But it would be good with any green veggie, or even just a salad and some good bread. Here's the general guidelines for broiling fish in a skillet (and the salmon marinade recipe from the Boston Globe):

Broiled Salmon

1. Get a skin-on fillet of salmon (preferably wild-caught, if you can find it and your budget allows). A 1.5-lb fillet will serve 3-4 people, depending on what else you make as accompaniments.

2. Get out your largest, oven-proof skillet - a cast-iron one is perfect. Make sure that the salmon fillet will fit into the skillet. If the fillet is too large, cut it into two (or more) pieces that will fit comfortably in the skillet.

3. Turn the broiler on high and put the skillet into the oven. The top of the skillet should be 4-6 inches below the flame, so move the oven racks if needed. Let the skillet heat under the broiler for 10 minutes, then CAREFULLY take the skillet out and put it on top of the stove (use hot pads, of course).

4. Place the salmon, skin side down, into the skillet. The salmon will immediately start sizzling. Put the skillet back in the oven and broil the salmon until it is cooked (i.e. the flesh is opaque when you poke at it with a fork). Because the fish is cooking from the top and the bottom at the same time, it should be done in 10 minutes or less.

5. If you want to add a glaze, take the skillet out when the fish is almost done cooking and brush some teriyaki sauce on top of the salmon. Put the fish back under the broiler for a minute or two until the glaze starts to bubble.

6. Eat.

...and here's a marinade for salmon that's based on a recipe that is based on bulgogi...the recipe appeared in the Boston Globe Sunday magazine, by Adam Reid. (An aside: I love Adam Reid's columns. So nice to see more international influence in recipes). One time when I made this, I didn't have green onions, so I left them out. It was fine. But here's the original recipe:

For 2-1/4 lbs salmon fillet (6 servings):
8 scallions, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
8 medium garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup sake (I used a combo of vermouth and dry sherry, since I didn't have sake)
1/3 cup soy sauce (I used the light soy sauce - not low-salt, tho)
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon chili oil (I used Korean chili paste, since that's what I had in the fridge)

Combine everything in a food processor or blender (I didn't bother, just mixed it in a bowl). Place the salmon in a large baking dish and pour the marinade over it, turning to coat the fish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, turning the fish occasionally. Let the excess marinade drain off the fish before you place the fillets in the hot skillet.


Jen said...

This salmon recipe looks really healthy and tasty. This has a nice robust Asian flavor to it.

Paula said...

You know I love salmon -- I'll have to try this! For another easy salmon recipe see Elegant Poached Salmon at And I agree: the wild caught is SOOOO much better than farm raised, if you can swing the cost.

Val said...

Sounds so yummy. And I agree - Adam Reid's recipes are fantastic. I met him a long time ago when he still worked at Cook's and he is a very nice guy, too.